A need for migrant labour? Labour shortages, immigration and public policy

October 2007 – October 2009
Overview Theory Methods Findings Outputs Impact
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This research project aimed to analyse the nature and determinants of staff shortages in key sectors of the UK economy and to explore the implications for public policy. Public debates about labour immigration typically include discussions of its effects on the labour market, macro-economy and fiscal balance of the host country.

A key point of controversy in virtually all immigration debates concerns the role that migrants can and, some argue, should play in reducing domestic labour shortages. The research included conceptual analysis of labour demand, supply, and the role of migrant workers during economic growth and crisis. It also included empirical analysis of these issues in different sectors, including health, construction, agriculture and food processing, hospitality, social care and financial services.

Through the in-depth analysis of specific sectors, the resulting work explores the determinants of the changing shares of migrants in the workforce over time, considers the likely effects of the current economic downturn on staff shortages and the employment of migrants, and discusses policy implications.

Principal Investigator

Bridget Anderson


Martin Ruhs


Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) and ESRC (core funding)