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The University of Southampton
Public Engagement with Research

Wednesday 8 November

This first night of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2017 will focus on the theme of migration in the UK.

Multicultural population in the UK

Is migration really changing the UK as we know it?

During the night, our speakers will discuss migration and answer your questions. Migration is a complex issue that continues to make headlines and spark debate around the country. This event will help you to separate the fact from the fiction and provides the opportunity to discuss the issue with social science researchers.


Why is it so hard to get detailed counts of UK migration? - Professor Dave Martin

The present UK government has set an objective to "reduce net migration to the tens of thousands", which might at first glance seem a fairly vague target. There are ongoing debates, for example, about whether such targets are achievable or even desirable and what should actually be counted in the first place, for example whether overseas students should be included or not.

Why is it so hard to agree on the answers to such apparently basic questions about how many migrants there are in the UK? The reality is that we have neither a population registration system nor a systematic way of counting migrants in or out of the country. In this talk, we will explore some of the principles and puzzles of UK migration figures - hoping at least to recognise more clearly what we can and cannot measure!

The Futures of UK Migration - Dr Jason Hilton

A great number of decisions depend on predictions about the future populations sizes. For instance, ensuring the money is available to fund state pension requires estimates of the number of pensioners there will be, as well as the number of workers paying taxes to fund them. However, we cannot know exactly what how many people there will be in either group.

Migration is the contributor to future population change in the UK about which we know the least. On top of this general uncertatinty, migration policies in the UK will likely be revised once an eventual settlement is reached on Brexit. When planning for the future, we need to know not only how many people we think there will be, but also how confident we can be in saying so. Drawing on Centre for Population Change research, this talk will visualise the range of possible effects of different migration regimes on the future structure of the UK population, and the potential consequences.

How does migration impact the UK in the context of an ageing population? - Dr Julie Vullnetari

Population in the UK, like in many other affluent countries, is ageing rapidly. What role does migration play in addressing one of the biggest challenges facing our society today?

Research has shown that migration has contributed positively in this situation in at least two ways. First, it is well established that migrants are usually younger than the general population, most often of working age, thus less likely than the average population to draw on healthcare services and older age social care. Yet, through their work and taxes, they contribute to the country’s coffers, which in turn finances both services. Moreover, a significant proportion of migrants work themselves as nurses and carers in institutions such as care homes, and more informally in individuals’ homes, providing hands on, and often intimate care, for numbers of ageing British men and women across the country.

In this talk we will provide an overview of the situation in the UK, and go behind the numbers and figures to reveal the human stories that so powerfully illustrate real life everyday encounters, relationships, and the human face of migration.

Book your FREE ticket & leave your questions here


Professor David Martin

David is Professor of Geography within Geography and Environment at the University of Southampton. He is currently involved in the leadership of three major ESRC initiatives: the UK Data Service, the Administrative Data Research Centre for England and the National Centre for Research Methods.

Personal webpage

Dr Jason Hilton

Jason is a Senior Research Assistant in Demography at the University of Southampton. He is working within the modelling strand of the Centre for Population Change.

Personal webpage

Dr Julie Vullnetari

Julie is a Lecturer in Human Geography within Geography and Environment at the University of Southampton.

Personal webpage

Special guest

Masud Milas (Stand-up Comedy)

You might remember him from the Latitude Festival or the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016, or simply from Bright Club Southampton #8 last May! Masud is a concentrate of energy and comedy: "With his 70’s flair and kick ass jacket, Masud’s intelligent addictive humour has earned him a rapidly growing fan base" - Phyl McIntyre Entertainment. We are thrilled to see Masud coming back to Southampton to perform at 'Hope & Hops: the science of society'. He will give his personal twist on tonight's theme.

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