The Sun Never Sets on the British . . . Emigrants

The Telegraph reports on a recent OECD study finding that record numbers of skilled professionals are fleeing Britain for more hospitable lands, including the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Spain. According to the report, the United Kingdom is said to have the worst “brain drain” problem of any nation, having lost one in ten of its most highly qualified professionals. In 2006, 207,000 citizens left the United Kingdom — more than one every three minutes. Only Mexico has had more emigrants in recent years. Apparently free universal health care is not enough to keep skilled Britons from leaving; high house prices and taxes and bad weather are the most commonly cited reasons for leaving. What’s saving Britain from a severe shortage of skilled labor? Immigrants, of course — over a million skilled immigrants have arrived on British shores to take the place of the 1.1 million Britons who have left.

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16 Responses

  1. Deven says:


    Fascinating trend; thanks for posting the piece. Are the incoming people being paid less than the outgoing? In other words does this situation parallel the H1-B issues in that some tech folks say there is enough labor but the indistries want ot pay less for the immigrants so they claim a scarcity that exists only if one pays non-immigrant rates?



  2. Jaya says:

    Thanks, Deven — great question. Unfortunately, I don’t know whether the UK/EU have (and if so, enforce) requirements similar to the H1B and the OECD report doesn’t answer your precise question. However, the report does find that nearly 20% of the foreign-born in the UK hold jobs for which they are overqualified, which would lead me to think that many of these immigrants would accept lower pay for the same jobs that skilled Britons are leaving behind if they can do so legally.

  3. Mike says:

    I work for a small UK-based company in our US office. Interestingly, we’re now up to 3 Brits who have left England for the US — and when I’ve been to UK HQ, several others there have told me they’ve tried to emigrate to the US. Meanwhile I think that half or more of the new analysts hired in the UK in the past two years have been immigrants.

  4. Mark L says:

    The brain drain (or maybe ambition drain) from the home islands was an ongoing theme in Neville Shute’s later novels. It was explicitly the theme of “Beyond the Black Stump,” and was the mechanism that led to the neice’s being left an orphan in Shute’s last novel, “Trustee from the Toolroom.” So it was happening in the late 1940s and through the 1950s, just as it is skyrocketing again today.

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the party controling Parliment during those periods? Nah. Probably just a coincidence.

  5. Shannon Love says:

    We’ve seen similar patterns in internal migration in the U.S. Americans move away from Leftist dominated areas and towards more free areas. Without immigrations, places like New York, L.A. and San Francisco would be seriously depopulated.

    The Left’s war on the productive always has this consequence. Fortunately, in the free world, they can’t build walls to keep people in.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Are there data indicating what proportion of current emigrants from the UK are Jews?

  7. john Henry says:

    Hey Mark L,

    As a founder and former board member of the Nevil Shute society, thanks for mentioning him and his books.

    We should also mention “In the Wet” the main plot point of which is England emptying of population to the point where the Queen moves the seat of the British Empire to Australia.

    Nevil Shute himself was an exemplar as well. Famous and well known aircraft designer, after WWII, he emigrated to Australia.

    Find out more at

    John Henry

    john at changeover dot com

  8. Fat Man says:

    Carpool Camera System Counts Heads, Tickets Solo Drivers By Frank Williams at on February 26, 2008:

    “Leave it to the Brits to take traffic surveillance to the next level. Worried that drivers may be getting away with violating the car share lane (carpool lane to us Yanks), Leeds is testing a new camera system that actually detects the blood and water content of human skin to determine how many occupants are in the vehicle.”

  9. Pat says:

    This is what happens to speed-limit cameras in the UK. Those new carpool cameras won’t last a week.

  10. Jay Manifold says:

    Also, Nevil Shute later wrote a book in which everyone leaves the planet. ;^)

  11. David Govett says:

    Now we know the purpose of the British Empire: the creation of clean nests to which the intelligentsia could flee after fouling their own nest.

  12. Anonymous says:


    At the company my husband works at non-U.S. citizens do earn less…until all their paperwork gets done. Apparently, it cost his company about $10,000 in fees/labor time of upper management to get foreigners processed. In general when he hired a non-native the reaction of the boss, was “Why the #$!! hell did you do that”! (He did it to get the best guys for the job).

    In the end they are paid less at first, but they don’t cost the company any less.

    Bear in mind, this is a small company that really doesn’t have guys who specialize in this sort of thing on the books. For a big firm who could afford to keep specialists on staff it could well be less per guy.

  13. GK says:

    Luckily, at least the low-tax ‘red’ states in the US are going to be hospitable and growing for another generation or more.

    Let Britain hollow out – the best Brits will benefit the US, Australia, etc. and make them stronger.

  14. Seerak says:

    Let Britain hollow out – the best Brits will benefit the US, Australia, etc. and make them stronger.

    As long as they leave their politics behind, of course. “Free universal health care” is a big reason why many of those brains are leaving those places to come here. (Not to automatically equate myself with the “brains”, but that’s a part of why I left Canada to come to the U.S.)

    Even the ones going to Australia and Canada eventually end up in the US, as the pic shown here shows.

  15. Yehudit says:

    “….Without immigrations, places like New York, L.A. and San Francisco would be seriously depopulated…..”

    Wishful thinking. Those cities have their own charms which draw Americans as well as everyone else. It’s not only the foreigners which make the NYC housing market completely insulated from national trends.

    And thanks to Giuliani, NYC is a good place to work and live, albeit way too expensive.

  16. Amyobus Key says:

    Britain has always sent out waves of people. I find the verb fleeing to be amusing. It conjures up an image of people with hands over head yelling Core Blimey and not even taking the time to pack up their tea cozy’s.