About half of the migrants who came to the UK from the countries that joined the European Union in May 2004 have already left, according to a major report.
A study by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that fewer migrants were arriving from countries such as Poland, while greater numbers than before were leaving the UK.
Using a range of data sources, the report estimated that more than one million migrant workers had come to Britain from the eight Central and Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004.
But IPPR claimed that about half of these had already returned home and that many more will follow suit.
Polish nationals now make up the single largest foreign national group living in the UK. Four years ago this group was the 13th largest.
The employment rate among nationals of the new EU member states is 84% – the highest of all immigrant groups and 9% higher than the UK-born average. Very few of these immigrants claim state benefits: only 2.4% of those registering for National Insurance numbers since 2004 did so to claim benefit payments.
Danny Sriskandarajah, head of migration research at the IPPR and report co-author, said: “Migration from the new EU member states has happened on a staggering scale but seems to have been largely positive for all concerned.
“Our findings challenge the widely-held assumptions that most of those who have arrived are still here, that more will come and that most will stay permanently. It is a question of when, not if, the East European migration slows. With fewer migrants in and more migrants out, the UK seems to be experiencing a turnstile effect, not floodgates.”