An Evidence Base on Migration and Integration in London 2009


In 2009, the GLA (Greater London Authority) commissioned COMPAS to provide a comprehensive report on the role of economically active migrants in London’s economy. London stands out from the rest of the UK in the number of residents born overseas, but also as the favoured UK destination for young and economically active migrants.

But London’s migration picture is characterised by polarity: many at the top end of the scale in terms of income and skills, and many among the most disadvantaged. The report begins with a literature and demographic review presenting a picture of migration in London and the key issues around migrant integration, showing the changing nature of migration in the city. This draws together the state of the academic and policy literature with as recent as possible primary data provided by the GLA and UK Border Agency and original data analysis conducted by COMPAS. The report also presents the broad contours of the contemporary migration landscape in London, before looking at each of the Mayor’s integration strategy core themes in terms of barriers and factors to successful integration and policy implications arising. It concludes with a framework of interventions, noting the policy priorities arising from the evidence for each of the themes.

Principal Investigator

Ben Gidley


Hiranthi Jayaweera


Greater London Authority








Among the key findings of the report are:

  • The nature of migration has changed in the last decade and there are key differences between ‘old’ and ‘new’ migrants.
  • Overseas-born people comprise 34% of London’s population, including labour migrants, family reunion migrants and students. Many have been here for several years and are British citizens, but a quarter arrived in the last five years.
  • There are great differences between the situation in inner and outer London. In the inner city, there is a great deal of diversity and population churn, including that associated with migrants, but this has been the case for some time. In the outer city, the scale of change is much smaller but the proportionate change is bigger.
  • There are a number of barriers to the processes of migrant integration, including English language proficiency, barriers to full labour market participation, to suitable accommodation, and to accessing health care, as well as lack of clarity on entitlements.
  • A strategy for migrant integration in London needs to take account of local differences, including the inner/outer London patterns, but can take advantage of the ways in which Londoners, as citizens of a world city, often have a positive attitude towards diversity.
  • Key areas for intervention include: ESOL provision, information and guidance on entitlements, targeted employment support, planning for emerging health needs, support for migrant community organisations, the development of the evidence base, regulation in the private rented housing sector and in the low pay economy, a strong communication strategy including sophisticated myth-busting, embracing migrants in the statutory duty to promote equality, and harnessing partners in civil society.