The Adjustment of Housing Markets to Migration Change: Lessons from Modern History



This study is concerned with two issues: first, the factors that determine the local location decisions of migrants within the UK and, second, the impact of migrant communities on domestic housing markets. Most migration studies are concerned with the determinants of international migration to the UK. Few look at the drivers of the spatial distributions once migrants arrive. However, migrant housing is primarily a local, urban problem and, arguably, the main issue is the spatial concentrations, rather than absolute numbers. The UK has experienced waves of migrants throughout its history and these are well documented in the censuses since the mid 19th century. A feature of the study is its long-run perspective, which allows the examination of the characteristics of the different waves and shows the high degree of persistence in spatial structures. The second part of the study examines why there is little evidence that migration has much effect on house prices, despite the popular perception that the impact is important. The study demonstrates that the nature of housing market adjustment is more complex than price indicators alone would suggest. Adjustment also takes place through changes to household formation and through the mobility of domestic residents, which mitigate the price effects.