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Introduction to migration statistics

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What migration statistics are available?

There are a number of different data sources we can use to learn more about migration. The main ones are outlined below. Some of these were not designed to provide migration information, so we’ve highlighted the information you might find most useful in each source.

1  International data

Global migration  The United Nations Statistics Division provides a range of information on global migration at:

European Union migration  Information about migration in the EU, including asylum data, allows you to compare different member countries. Published by the European Commission, it's available at:

2  National data [UK]

UK Statistics Authority  The UK Statistics Authority's 'migration hub' covers most available UK migration statistics at:

The Office for National Statistics [ONS] also has a wide range of relevant statistics. Migration is covered under the ‘Population’ theme. ONS launched its new website in August 2011:  

The Home Office publishes regular migration statistics at covering basic national data on people who have arrived in the UK for protection, family, education or work reasons. There is a small amount of regional data on asylum seekers who have been dispersed around the UK: you can find this in the quarterly 'Immigration Statistics' publication.

3  Local data

Some of the most useful sources of local migration information include:

Migrant workers  Information on all foreign nationals who have been allocated a new national insurance number is available from the Department for Work and Pensions, using their ‘tabulation tool’. This gives information on a number of variables such as age, nationality and local authority in which the worker lives. See:

Migrant workers from EU A8 countries  More detailed information about A8 nationals registering to work in the UK under the Worker Registration Scheme between 2004 and May 2011 is available to local authorities who register to access this information at This covers a variety of demographic and work-related information, such as dependants, industry and intended length of stay. However, the end of transitional controls [requiring A8 nationals to register to be able to work in the UK] means that this data is no longer collected, and so this data source is now less relevant and can only tell us about new A8 arrivals until May 2011.

Overseas students in higher education  Annual data on international students is provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Data is not arranged by local area, but the ‘institution level’ downloads allow you to see how many students have come from outside the UK to study at a particular educational institution:

Children of migrant parents may not be classed as migrants themselves. Some data on these children gives an indication of earlier migration patterns:

Births to non-UK born parents  Population data published by ONS tells us about babies born to migrant parents. Table 7 in the data section shows individual local authority results for births to non-UK born mothers by their world region of origin:

Pupils whose first language is not English  Schools data records the proportion of pupils whose first language is not English - see the 'Local Authority tables' download [tables 13a and b] on the Department for Education's website at Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics January 2011 

Where can I get help in understanding migration data?

Confused? Some websites are not easy to navigate, and some datasets are difficult to make sense of if you are not a statistician. There are a number of initiatives designed to help:

Local migration profiles  Here at Migration Yorkshire, we provide an overview of migration data available in some areas of Yorkshire and Humber in our local migration profiles. You can download summaries of the profiles from our statistics section. Due to data restrictions, the full profiles are only available to our partner agencies under certain circumstances: to find out more, see Who are the local migration profiles for?

Local area migration indicators  Provided by the Office for National Statistics, and available for each local authority area of the UK at  [scroll to the ‘data’ section]. The indicators include: international arrivals and departures, those without British citizenship, and foreign nationals registering with a GP, national insurance numbers issued to foreign nationals, and Worker Registration Scheme data for A8 nationals. The spreadsheet also allows you to create a number of graphs with the data.

Local information systems  Some areas have coordinated their population data sources in a ‘local information system’, although each one is organised differently. Eleven 'local information systems' in Yorkshire and Humber are available online. You can find links to them at:

Local authority briefings on age and ethnic group population projections  In July 2010, the University of Leeds produced a new methodology for population projections at a local authority level by ethnic group and age for the years 2001-2051. The Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory has produced local authority based briefings based on these projections, and these are available from:

Other guides to migration statistics include:

Gaps in our information

There are some groups of migrants in Yorkshire and Humber that we don't have much reliable information about, for example:

  • unaccompanied asylum seeking children [UASC]
  • refused asylum seekers who are destitute and are not being supported by the UK Border Agency
  • new refugees
  • migrants who have come to join their families already in the UK
  • migrants who have left Yorkshire and Humber

Other indicators of migration

In order to try and fill some of these gaps in our knowledge about migrants, there are other, non-statistical, sources of information that we can draw upon:

Local migration research  There is a substantial research base on migration in Yorkshire and Humber. Our online migration research database allows you to find lots of examples and summarises them for you.

Local migration services have a lot of expertise in dealing with new migrant groups in their area, and often collect their own monitoring data. You can find a list of many of these services in our online A-Z of organisations.

Employers and education providers show where migrants may be working or studying. Information on organisations who are licensed to sponsor students or migrant workers from outside the EU under the points-based system are available from the Home Office at Note that these lists cover the whole UK and are arranged alphabetically, so it's not easy to work out how many sponsors are in a particular local area – you can find out total numbers of these sponsors in each local authority area from our local migration profiles.

Contact us for more information

Pip Tyler, Research and Policy Manager
Phone: 0113 378 9023

Page last updated: 30/10/2018 13:02:48

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More information

If you have any questions about migration statistics, contact Pip Tyler:

Phone: 0113 378 9023