Independent commissions and labour migration: The British MAC

Philip L. Martin, Martin Ruhs


The independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was created in 2007 after a decade in which the share of foreign-born workers in the British labour force doubled to 13 per cent. The initial core mandate of the MAC was to provide “independent, evidence-based advice to government on specific skilled occupations in the labour market where shortages exist which can sensibly be filled by migration.” The MAC's answers to these 3-S questions, viz, is the occupation for which employers are requesting foreign workers skilled, are there labour shortages, and is admitting foreign workers a sensible response, have improved the quality of the debate over the “need” for foreign workers in the UK by highlighting some of the important trade-offs inherent in migration policy making. The MAC can clarify migration trade-offs in labour immigration policy, but cannot decide the ultimately political questions about whose interests should be prioritised and how competing policy objectives should be balanced.


Migrant workers; labour migration; economic needs tests

Full Text:



Bruno, A. (2012). Immigration of Temporary Lower-Skilled Workers: Current Policy and Related Issues. Congressional Research Service. R42434 March 20.

Hira, R. (2009). H-1B Visas: It's Time for an Overhaul. Business Week. April 13.

Martin, P. (2013). Immigration and Farm Labor: Policy Options and Consequences. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 95(2):470-475.

Martin, P. (2012). High-Skilled Migrants: S&E Workers in the United States. American Behavioral Scientist. 56: 1058-1079.

Martin, P. (2009). Importing Poverty? Immigration and the Changing Face of Rural America. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Martin, P. and M. Ruhs (2011). Labor Shortages and US Immigration Reform: Promises and Perils of an Independent Commission. International Migration Review. 45(1):179-192.

Martin, P. and E. Midgley (2006). Immigration: Shaping and Reshaping America. Washington D.C. Population Reference Bureau. Vol. 61, No. 4. December.

Marshall, R. (2009). Immigration for Shared Prosperity — A Framework for Comprehensive Reform. Washington, DC: Economic Policy Institute.

Mattoo, A., I. C. Neagu, C. Ozden (2008). Brain waste? Educated immigrants in the US labor market. Journal of Development Economics, 87(2):255-269.

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) (2008). First recommended shortage occupation lists for the UK and Scotland. MAC,

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) (2009a). Analysis of Tier 1, Tier 2 and de-pendants under the points-based system. MAC.

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) (2009b). First review of recommended short-age occupation lists for the UK and Scotland. MAC.

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) (2010a). Third review of recommended short-age occupation lists for the UK and Scotland. MAC. Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) (2010b). Limits on Migration. MAC. November.

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) (2012). Analysis of the Impacts of Migration. MAC, January.

Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) (2013). Skilled, Shortage, Sensible. Full review of the recommended shortage occupation lists for the UK and Scotland, a sunset clause and the creative occupations. MAC.

Papademetriou, D., D. Meissner, M. Rosenblum, and M. Sumption. 2009. Aligning Temporary Immigration Visas with US Labor Market Needs: The Case for Provisional Visas. Migration Policy Institute.

Reitz, J. (2013). Canada: New Initiatives and Approaches to Immigration and Nation Building. In: Hollifield, J., P. Martin and P. Orrenius (Eds.) Controlling Immigration. A Global Perspective. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

Ruhs, M. and B. Anderson (Eds.) (2010). Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labor Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Transatlantic Trends (2009). Immigration.

Veneri, C. (1999). Can Occupational Labor Shortages be Identified using Available Data? Monthly Labor Review. 122(3):15-21.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Transnational Press London

Copyright © 2003-2016 Migration Letters / Transnational Press London | All rights reserved | Contact Us