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Quarter of a million Romanians and Bulgarians are now in the UK, but most arrived before 2014

30 Dec 2014

The UK’s population of Romanians and Bulgarians (A2 migrants) has increased at about the same rate in 2014 as it did in 2013. This suggests that the end of 'transitional controls' on A2 migrants working or claiming benefits in the UK has not so far caused a sharp rise in numbers, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said today.

Migration Observatory analysis of the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey data shows that the overall population of Romanians and Bulgarians in the UK increased by 47,000 from 205,000 in the third quarter (Q3) of 2013 to 252,000 in Q3 of 2014 (the latest data available). This follows a similar rise of 45,000 from Q3 2012 to Q3 2013.

Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: “The growth in the Romanian and Bulgarian population of the UK has been steady for the last 7 years, despite transitional controls that limited their access to the labour market and welfare state in the UK. The end of those controls doesn’t seem to have had a very significant effect.”

The Government did not release any estimates of how many Romanian and Bulgarian migrants they expected to arrive after transitional labour market controls were lifted on January 1 2014. This led to much speculation about numbers, but with no robust method available for estimating how many people would arrive, none could be relied on.

Sumption added: “Immigration from Romania and Bulgaria has been much more gradual than flows from the EU member states that joined in 2004. In 2004, the UK was one of only three EU member states that did not introduce transitional labour market controls on migrants from new accession states, and saw a sharp increase in migration from these countries. It seems likely that the controls imposed in 2007, together with the weak economy at the end of the decade, may have slowed the pace of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants settling in the UK.”

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For further information contact:
Rob McNeil, Head of Media and Communications
The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford
e: robert.mcneil@compas.ox.ac.uk
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About the Migration Observatory

  • Based at the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, the Migration Observatory provides independent, authoritative, evidence-based analysis of data on migration and migrants in the UK, to inform media, public and policy debates, and to generate high quality research on international migration and public policy issues. The Observatory’s analysis involves experts from a wide range of disciplines and departments at the University of Oxford.
  • The Migration Observatory is funded by: the Barrow Cadbury Trust, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Unbound Philanthropy, and also receives support from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
  • The Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford conducts high quality research in order to develop theory and knowledge, inform policy-making and public debate, and engage users of research within the field of migration. For further details see the COMPAS website: www.compas.ox.ac.uk/.

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