Population growth in UK at lowest levels since 2003

Recent data shows that the population growth within the UK is at its lowest levels since 2003.

UK population went from 66.8 million people in the middle of 2019, to 67.1 million people in mid-2020, according to the Office For National Statistics.

Because of this, the population growth rate fell from 0.54% to 0.47%.

The Office For National Statistics added that this “marks one of the smallest increases seen in the context of historical trends”.

Compared to Pre-Brexit Britain, the increase in population growth is almost half of previous levels which would typically exceed 0.8% annually.

The population growth in Britain is mainly attributed to migration, especially from the European and eastern-European regions from nations such as Poland.

Although Brexit has made it more difficult for these migrants to enter the UK due to changes in skill requirements, Brexit is not the main reason why migration to the UK has decreased.

The main factor at play is the COVID-19 pandemic instead, which has resulted in lockdown restrictions being imposed within the UK as well as other European nations.

The restrictions which have occurred with the pandemic have mainly halted commercial air travel and other border restrictions which have been imposed to prioritise public health and reduce the spread of the virus.

For this reason, the number of individuals who are migrating to the UK has drastically decreased, however, the ONS does say that the current decrease in population growth may not be accurate.

ONS reports that this figure may be uncertain and a more accurate estimate will be published in the upcoming summer for mid-2020

Liz Mckeown, director of public policy analysis for ONS said that “as more data becomes available” that there will be “likely revisions in the coming months.”

For this reason, it may be unclear how many people who have left due to COVID will return.

However, the likelihood is that the COVID-19 Pandemic has decreased population growth overall.

So, is the decrease temporary?

Well, the likelihood is that post-COVID, population growth will increase again, however, it may not return to pre-Brexit levels due to the new UK border policy.

This is because the UK has imposed a stricter immigration policy which is designed to limit low skilled migration.

Will this have an adverse effect on the UK economy? Well, Reuters reports that if the trend of workers leaving the UK persists, 2020 will be the first year to see net emigration from Britain since 1993.

If this occurs, the UK economy will experience rather adverse effects as a decrease in the population size will decrease the productive capacity of the economy.

Because of this, the rate at which price levels rise will increase, further reducing the purchasing power of those on fixed incomes.

One of these groups are state pensioners, and, if their buying power decreases, then they may be forced to purchase foods of inferior quality which have adverse effects on health due to their high preservative content.

Additionally, with fewer individuals to collect income tax from, the UK government will see a decrease in tax revenue, which will make it more difficult to pay off the high debts which the nation has acquired during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Overall, if net emigration does occur, it will have undesirable impacts on the UK economy, and, if net migration drastically decreases, then the UK economy will see slower rates of growth in future years.


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Research compiled by Billy Ryan.


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