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Off EU Go? Brexit, the UK Labour Market and Immigration

Jonathan Wadsworth
Journal article | Fiscal Studies

Immigration remains a highly antagonistic issue and its purported effects in the labour market are still contestable. Against this background, the UK looks set to undertake a large overhaul of its immigration policy following the decision to leave the EU. To try to inform the debate, this study summarises the key patterns and changes in the UK labour market regarding immigration in the run‐up to and the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. The paper then offers some ideas that could explain why immigration appears to have had little effect, either positive or negative, on the wage and employment outcomes of UK‐born residents. It next outlines the current state of the labour market and the role of EU immigrants in it as the UK edges toward Brexit. The paper then considers where change may be seen most strongly following Brexit and discusses the many possible immigration policy options open to the government after the UK leaves the EU.