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Researching the local employment impacts of immigration: Which way now?

A joint webinar of the University of Sheffield Migration Research Group and Understanding Inequalities (UI) project

Chair: Dr Hannah Lewis (University of Sheffield)

Speaker: Professor Gwilym Pryce (University of Sheffield)

Discussants: Professor Adrian Favell and Dr Albert Varela (University of Leeds)

The recent research paper, “Estimating the local employment impacts of immigration: A dynamic spatial panel model” [1] by Professor Bernard Fingleton (University of Cambridge), Dr Dan Olner (University of Sheffield) and Professor Gwilym Pryce (University of Sheffield) set out a new approach to the estimation of the labour market impacts of immigration. One of the key advantages of their approach is that allows researchers to quantify the local—e.g. ward-level—employment impacts of immigration. This stands in stark contrast to previous approaches in the UK which have only been able to provide estimates at the national level. The authors apply the model to London to demonstrate the robustness of the method. However, their new approach has the potential to be applied to all cities and regions in the UK, opening up new avenues of inquiry into how the impacts of immigration on employment vary geographically.

The purpose of this webinar is not to delve into the technical details of the statistical model but to explore the social, economic and political ramifications of this new field of enquiry. For example, suppose immigration generates significant positive impacts on job creation in some areas of the UK, but not in others. What if, in some areas, the job impacts of immigration are in fact negative? What are the social justice implications of this scenario and how might the government redistribute the gains more evenly? And what might be the underlying factors that cause migrants in some regions and cities to generate employment but not in others? How can governments foster the right local socio-economic conditions to help migrants become more economically productive in terms of job creation? Given the many potential research questions catalysed by this new approach, what should the priorities be for future research in this area, and what are the methodological and ethical pitfalls to be avoided?

[1] Fingleton, B., Olner, D., & Pryce, G. (2019). Estimating the local employment impacts of immigration: A dynamic spatial panel model. Urban Studies. 


Gwilym Pryce is Professor of Urban Economics and Social Statistics at the University of Sheffield. He holds a joint appointment in the Sheffield Methods Institute and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. Gwilym is Co-Director of the ESRC Understanding Inequalities project and Director of the ESRC/Nordforsk Life at the Frontier project. He is also the Sheffield Director of the £6m ESRC CDT in New Forms of Data which spans social science, engineering, health, law and computer science.

Adrian Favell is Chair in Sociology and Social Theory at the University of Leeds, and director of the Bauman Institute on social and critical theory. He is the author of various books on citizenship, migration, cosmopolitanism and cities, most recently a collection of essays, Immigration, Integration and Mobility (ECPR Press 2015). He currently directs the ESRC UK in a Changing Europe project, Northern Exposure: Race, Nation and Disaffection in "Ordinary" Towns and Cities after Brexit, which re-examines how minority diversity, recent migration and social class tensions have impacted party politics and electoral outcomes in a number of large towns and small cities across the North of England. 

Albert Varela is a Lecturer in Quantitative Methods based at the University of Leeds' School of Sociology and Social Policy and Q-Step Centre. He is a co-investigator in the ESRC UK in a Changing Europe project Northern Exposure: Race, Nation and Disaffection in "Ordinary" Towns and Cities after Brexit. He also conducts quantitative research on transnational mobility, the intergenerational mobility of immigrants in European societies, and job quality among workers in non-standard employment, and has been involved in policy-focused research on homelessness, sentencing consistency and the role of public employment services in job search behaviour.

Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 12:00 to 13:15

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