A new article from the International Longevity Centre – UK (ILC-UK) argues that the prospect of using EU citizens as ‘bargaining chips’ during the upcoming Brexit negotiations is undermined by the demographic reality of age profile, concentration and sheer number of EU citizens in the UK relative to UK citizens in the EU.
The article describes how:
Whilst 890,000 UK citizens live across all 27 EU member states, over 3 million EU citizens live in the UK
Almost 50% of UK citizens living in the EU are over 50, while over 60% of EEA migrants living in the UK are aged between 14-44 (see figures 1 and 2)
In 2015, EU nationals in the UK had an employment rate above 80%, significantly higher than the UK average
Public spending per UK resident rises sharply after state pension age while individual tax contributions fall considerably. Therefore, the UK’s younger migrant population is more likely to put into public services than take out (see figure 3)
The report concludes that as a much greater proportion of EEA migrants living are of working age, and as people of working age spend more, have greater involvement in the national labour force, and pay more in tax receipts than they receive in public service spending, a mass exodus of EU migrants would result in a decline in economic growth, and potentially lower living standards.
Dean Hochlaf, Assistant Economist, ILC-UK said:
‘A mass exodus of EU migrants would have devastating ramifications for the UK economy. Growth would slow, tax revenue would slump, the uncertainty would deter investment from abroad which the UK desperately needs. It would no doubt sour the upcoming negotiations and leave the UK struggling to get an adequate deal with its largest trading partner.
The truth is EU citizens are too valuable to be used as negotiating weapons. Such a strategy relies on a bluff, that they can be sacrificed if the EU was to make life difficult for UK citizens abroad. If this bluff was to be called, then it will be the ageing population of the UK that suffers’.