The UK’s 21st century Brain Drain

According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of British citizens who moved overseas in 2012 was 154,000. This is up from about 149,000 in 2011 year.

OECD figures show that 1.28 million highly-skilled British citizens are now living overseas, from a total of about 4.7 million.
This effectively says that about 27% of the Britons living overseas are highly-skilled.

About 10 per cent of University Graduates move overseas according to some reports.

A 2012 UK Home Office report:

Australia has consistently been the most popular destination country for British emigrants over the last 20 years. Other key destinations for British emigrants include Spain, the USA, France,
Germany, Canada and New Zealand. An estimated 4.7 million UK-born people live abroad with the largest stocks in Australia, the USA, Canada, Spain and Ireland. The UK ranks eighth highest in the world in terms of the number of its nationals living abroad (World Bank, 2011). (PDF)

Official Definition:

Long-term migrants are persons who move to a country other than that of their usual residence for a period of at least one year. This includes many people on ‘short term’ working visas, eg: the Australian 457 Visa.

From that same 2012 report:

Annual emigration from the UK has not changed much over the last decade, except for spikes such as in 2008, with the following numbers of people leaving the UK to change their usual place of residence.

  • 2002 around 363,000
  • 2008 around 427,000
  • 2009 around 350,000
  • 2011 around 350,000


The 2011 figures show that 149,000 (about 43%) were British citizens with the remaining 201,000 (57%) being non-British citizens, maybe returning to their home country?

So…  with headlines such as…

More than 400 British citizens are leaving the country every day in a drain on talent

UK facing middle-class brain drain as professionals seek better lives abroad

Britain being hit by rise in graduate ‘brain drain’

Has it really changed much ?

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