How many UK citizens live and work overseas?
One of the challenges that we have always faced as researchers has been in enumerating the numbers of Britons living in the EU27.
The first thing to stress is that statistics are tricky in respect to this population, partly because of the question of who gets counted? Those holding citizenship? Those born in the United Kingdom? What about those with dual nationality or those born abroad? Do they count? But is also because the United Kingdom does not census its’ overseas citizens. So … it’s complicated, as Michaela discusses in our micropodcast on this topic.
In the time that Karen and Michaela have been working on the topic of British emigration, there have been many different statistics circulating; before the referendum 2,000,000 UK citizens were alleged to be in the EU27, after the referendum, this had been reduced to 1,200,000 and more recently 900,000. Always ask what the statistics are measuring, how and when? This is why we produced the graphic below, to communicate what and who the official statistics neglect as it is far too easy to fetishise these numbers without really considering what they mean.
But statistics can be useful; we are particularly keen to employ the available statistics to highlight the persistent misrepresentation of UK citizen populations living in the EU27. It is with this in mind that we produced the second of these graphics, highlighting that the majority of UK citizens living in the EU27 are not pensioners!
The Office for National Statistics is a good go-to resource. Quarterly migration reports document both immigration and migration from the UK, so are a good source for finding out how many people are leaving the country, and the number of UK citizens within this number. But they also produced the recent series of articles on UK citizens living in Europe.
You can also consult census data in different EU countries provided that they disaggregate the population statistics by constituent countries within the EU (which isn’t always the case).The UK Home Office also produced the report Emigration from the UK in 2012, which talks through the emigration trends including the discussion of why UK citizens choose to leave the UK (and drawing on Michaela and Karen’s previous research).
This website has been produced as part of the research project BrExpats: freedom of movement, citizenship and Brexit in the lives of British citizens resident in the EU27. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant Number ES/R000875/1) through the UK in a Changing Europe Initiative.