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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

Britain's Immigrants: An economic profile

This report has been produced to form the empirical basis of an episode of Channel 4's Dispatches series on the economic characteristics of Britain's immigrant communities and the contributions they make to the country.

This report has been produced to form the empirical basis of an episode of Channel 4's Dispatches series on the economic characteristics of Britain's immigrant communities and the contributions they make to the country.

The economic impact of immigration to the UK is a controversial issue. The contribution that immigrants make to the UK economy has been one of the most contested areas within research, policymaking and in the media. Researchers produce often contradictory evidence on the impacts of immigration, political parties argue about how best to manage migration and its impacts, and the media is full of stories about various aspects of immigration.

However, despite this attention, there is very little information on the economic characteristics and contribution of Britain's immigrants. This is unfortunate because it means that policymakers do not have the evidence base they need on which to base good policies, and because it leads to claims being made about immigrants and immigration that are based on intuition and assumption rather than hard data.

This report attempts to contribute fresh information about the characteristics and contribution of some of the UK's largest immigrant communities. It presents data on a range of indicators of the socio-economic characteristics of 25 groups of people defined by their country of birth (which we refer to as 'country-of-birth groups') living in the UK, plus those of the UK-born as a comparator. The report also explores and outlines some of the factors that shape these socioeconomic outcomes and highlights trends over time. While a complete picture cannot be drawn because of the lack of comprehensive data, we believe this report uses the best available evidence from the best available sources to present a picture of how Britain's immigrant communities compare with each other and compare with the UK-born population across several key economic criteria.