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Migration matters

Immigration is not only politically controversial, it is extremely complex and hard to measure accurately. There are big flows into and out of the UK every year - but in recent years more immigrants have been arriving than ever before

By John Salt   May 2005

As researchers in the field of international migration, we confront the confusion that surrounds the subject each day. Concepts are unclear. Statistics are often inadequate. Reductionism is rife. Migration becomes “immigration”; immigration and asylum are conflated. There is a foghorn dialogue between the “pro” and “anti” lobbies.

The answer to the question “What is migration?” is not straightforward. Migration is a sub-category of the wider concept “movement,” embracing various types and forms of human mobility from commuting to permanent emigration. We want to throw some light on the scale and characteristics of international migration as it affects the UK. We…

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