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EU Citizens Bring Higher Skills if Born Outside the EU

EU citizens living in the UK are more likely to be working in high-skilled jobs if they were born outside of the EU, according to new analysis from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

The analysis, which looks at data from the Labour Force Survey, found that the share of EU citizens living in the UK who were born outside Europe has fluctuated between 6 and 9% since 2004. By the beginning of 2015, this group made up an estimated 3% of the UK’s foreign-born population, equivalent to about 264,000 people. This is an increase from 78,000 in 2004, when the EU citizen population in the UK was much lower.

EU citizens born outside the EU were doing more skilled work in the UK than people born in EU countries, with 30% working in senior management and professional jobs compared to 22% of EU-born EU nationals.

The vast majority of EU migrants born in non-EU countries come from member states that joined the union before its enlargement in 2004 (known as EU-14 countries). The main countries of citizenship are Portugal, Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany.

Non-EU born EU citizens are a diverse group, according to the analysis. Their countries of birth range from India and South Africa to North America and Brazil. They include people who previously migrated to other European countries and were granted citizenship after a period of residence there, as well as people born abroad with EU-citizen parents or grandparents.

“EU migrants who were born outside the EU are a small share of the UK’s migrant population, but they have distinctive characteristics,” explained Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory. “Interestingly, they have been more successful in finding high-skilled work than people born in the EU.”

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