Reducing immigration would make Britain dumber [stats]

Morgan Stanley
Morgan Stanley

Theresa May’s new government has promised to reduce immigration and made noises about reserving British jobs for British workers. Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the Conservative Party conference last week that companies should pass a test before recruiting immigrants. “The test should ensure people coming here are filling gaps in the labour market, not taking jobs British people could do,” she said.

That might keep the smart people out, according to research from Morgan Stanley economist Carmen Nuzzo, because immigrants to the UK are better-educated and have a higher skill level than native-born Brits. Nuzzo published a note for clients that discusses how much intellectual capital might flee the UK after Brexit. This chart shows the job skill level among people aged 15-64, not counting those in education:

According to the OECD, foreign-born workers are about 6% of the UK population but about 15% of all high-skilled workers. Nuzzo writes:

Restrictions to high-skilled migrants also risk harming the UK labour force. [The chart] shows that the share of high-skilled individuals is higher among UK immigrants (47%) than within the native population (35%) and is also relatively high by international standards.

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