Migration between Britain and France roughly equal – but for different reasons
Retirement is a major driver for for Britons to move to live across the Channel.
Migration between Britain and France is roughly equal – but the reasons for crossing the Channel are less in tune than the numbers, an official report suggests.
While study and work draws tens of thousands of French nationals to the UK, retirement appears to be a driver for a significant proportion of the British ex-pats who make the opposite journey.
The findings emerged in a detailed paper on the dynamics of migration between Britain and France published by the Office for National Statistics.
Analysis of various data sources showed there were an estimated 148,800 British citizens living in France last year, compared to nearly 155,000 French nationals who were resident in the UK in 2013-2015.
Census figures from 2014 show that nearly half (45%) of the Britons in France were aged 55 or over.
About half of British citizens in France were working, and while most of those aged under 50 years old work, the majority of those over that age were neither employed nor looking for work.
Department for Work and Pensions records show that approximately 66,773 people receiving the UK State Pension were resident in France in November 2016, although the figure could include non-British recipients as well as expats.
The most common region for British citizens to live in France is Nouvelle-Aquitaine – 26% live in the south western region.
A different picture of the French community in Britain emerges from the report. Of the 154,800 French citizens living in the UK in 2013 to 2015, almost four in five (79%) were of working age, with 85% of these in employment or studying.
The analysis shows that of the French nationals employed in the UK, 27,300 (29%) worked in the banking and finance sector. Two in three (65%) worked in “higher level professions”, which includes managers, directors and senior officials.
The ONS said that, although there are “roughly similar” numbers of UK citizens living in France and French nationals resident in the UK, “of the two it seems France is the more popular ‘retirement’ destination”.
It is the latest in a number of reports on migration between the UK and other EU member states published in the wake of the Brexit vote last year.
Emma Rourke, ONS director for public policy analysis, said: “This series of reports on migration between the UK and other EU countries shows how there is more to the data than the simple headline figures.
“Today’s analysis shows that while overall numbers of UK and French citizens migrating between the two countries are similar, the reasons and experiences of the different groups within these migrant populations could be quite different.”