Immigration targets: Nonsensical, but here to stay

From Professor Christina Boswell…

Politics, Knowledge & Migration

It’s now three years since the Conservative Party pledged to reduce net migration, so a good time to take stock of how they’ve been doing. UCL recently published a useful report exposing the various problems with this target: its questionable objective (why reduce overall population size, when the crucial issue is the social and economic impact of different types of migration?); and the various problems with realizing the target. Governments face major constraints to controlling immigration, and the easiest route for reducing numbers has been to cut off access to high-skilled workers and foreign students from non-EEA countries – both highly beneficial to the UK economy. A case of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Given these fairly fundamental short-comings, what explains the lure of this type of populist “stretch” target?

Targets in immigration policy pre-date the current government: Labour introduced a series of targets in the 2000s…

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