Monday, May 26, 2008

UK Exodus

Shrinking cities are as common as sprawl. That Cool Cities can stem the tide of out-migration is a myth of the Richard Florida enterprise. Policies designed to stop brain drain are a tired political gambit. However, who is leaving is what continues to make news:

Increasing numbers of British citizens are opting to make a new life in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Spain & USA, creating gaps in the UK workforce & community for skilled migrants to move in.

According to statistics released by Whitehall, over 200,000 Britons emigrated from the UK in 2006. In response, over 160,000 foreign nationals were granted UK passports in 2007. This is an increase of seven percent on the previous year's immigration figures.

Though the UK has been under some economic pressure from the credit crunch, British industries are still calling out for more skilled workers to fill skill shortages.

What's wrong with London? The global alpha city is fine, thank you very much. Cities need immigrants and London is good at attracting them. However, the UK demands even more of the foreign-born in order to sustain economic growth. Retaining more native talent isn't the answer.

If London can't keep the British from leaving the country, then what hope do Rust Belt cities have? Creative Paris doesn't compare to other world cities as far as French-born entrepreneurs are concerned. Shrinking cities such as Buffalo must keep brain drain in proper perspective. London and Paris are good models of how immigration benefits cities, but the better takeaway value may be how the demographic story of the United Kingdom exposes supposed city saviors as charlatans.

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