The Pandemic Has Likely Hastened Brexodous

A little while back, I wrote that changing opportunities in the UK relative to continental Europe following Brexit would result in a tipping-point for migration (here). Once the tipping point is reached, there would be a notable shift towards out-migration, a Brexodous. My suspicion is that the recent pandemic likely kick-started the Brexodous.

I suspect that two recent developments, primarily related to quality of life, will have advanced the timeline for Brexodous. First, since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, continental Europe has done a much better job handling the pandemic than the UK. It seems entirely reasonably that a sizeable number of Europeans living and working in the UK will take the UK’s response into consideration when deciding where they want their next job to be and where they want to raise their children. Second, European countries have decided to go into debt together, borrowing to recover from the pandemic induced recession. More important than the more rapid economic improvement that the money will likely bring is the sense that the agreement has signaled that the EU is not going anywhere. The decision signals that the EU has become a bastion of stability, an attractive characteristic to workers looking for a quiet life.

For me, the near-term futures of the UK and the EU are becoming clearer. The UK has responded poorly to the pandemic and is making itself vulnerable to economic shocks by choosing to isolate from the world. The EU, on the other hand, has responded well to a truly exogenous pandemic and banded together to ensure a reasonably solid future for all involved. Given such divergent trends, I suspect that more than just a few marginal migrants will be choosing continental Europe over the UK. I suspect that the coming years will mark 2020 as the start of the Brexodous. A no-deal Brexit (seeming more likely each day) would further ensure this future.

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