Number of Britons emigrating lowest for 12 years

International PMI

Fewer people choosing to retire abroad

The number of British people emigrating from the UK is the lowest for more than a decade, according to official data.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that around 136,000 British people emigrated in 2010, compared to a peak of 207,000 in 2006. It is the lowest number since 1998 when 126,000 left.

The numbers indicate that fewer Britons are choosing to retire abroad. Australia remains the favourite destination for British emigrants, followed by the USA, France, Spain and Canada. A third of Britons who left the UK for at least a year went to Old Commonwealth countries (Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa) while a quarter moved to EU countries (compared to just over 40% in 2005). The ONS suggests that the declining popularity of Spain and France reflects the fact that fewer British emigrants are retiring overseas and may also be linked to the economic downturn in the EU.

Around 40% of British emigrants left the UK for a definite job while 20% went to accompany or join friends or family. In total, most emigrants today are of working age (93% in 2010 compared to 86% in 2005).

British emigrants make up 40% of all migrants leaving the UK for 12 months or more. In total, 339,000 people left the UK in 2010, the lowest number since December 2001. The number of people from central and eastern European countries emigrating from the UK fell from 52,000 in 2000 to 37,000 in 2010. Emigration of non-EU citizens also fell.

Total emigration peaked in December 2008, when the total stood at 427,000 for the year. The ONS reports that the peak in emigration in 2008 was partly due to an increase in EU citizens returning home, particularly Polish citizens.

Despite the recent sharp decrease, annual patterns of emigration show a general increase since 1998.



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