Migration under the shadow of Brexit uncertainty: Evidence from the UK and Spain

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This paper delves into the interplay between Brexit Uncertainty and Migration Flows. Focusing on two migrant groups, the study investigates the impact of Brexit on EU-migrants’ inflows to the UK, and the migration trends of Britons to and from Spain. Combining data from the OECD and EU-LFS, the study employs the Synthetic Control Method to estimate the causal impact of Brexit on migration during 2009-2019. The findings suggest that Brexit’s uncertainty reduced total EU-migrants’ inflows to the UK,while increasing inflows from EU-3 regions in specific. Among the results,younger migrants, low-skilled occupations like elementary occupations experienced notable declines. Remarkably, the human health and social work sector emerged as a vulnerable sector right before the COVID-19 outbreak.Contrast to expectations, London displayed slower declines, compared to substantial decreases in the Southeast of England and Wales. Employing data from INE-Statistics in Spain, the findings reveal prominent reductions in Britons migration in regions like Madrid and Seville. Conversely, increased Britons net migration was observed in coastal areas like the Balearic Islands.The in-space and in-time placebo experiments as well as the Leave-One-Out sensitivity test are performed to test the significance of the results. While limited significance was observed from OECD and EU-LFS, INE-Spain data strongly confirms Brexit as the causal impact.

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