You (Br)exit, I stay: the effect of the Brexit vote on internal migration

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

May 15, 2022


The profound divisions that emerged around the UK's decision to leave the European Union have stimulated a heated debate on whether the referendum, by exposing intolerance and exacerbating societal tensions, has affected individuals' choices. The UK is one of the most mobile societies in Europe, and internal migration plays a key role in national well-being and in the efficient functioning of the labour and housing markets. In this article, we examine the consequences of polarizing politics on individuals' propensity to migrate internally. We show that, in the aftermath of the vote, individuals were less inclined to move when they were aligned with the Brexit preferences of their district. As ‘Remainers’ found themselves on the losing side, they were more likely than ‘Leavers’ to value the alignment to their district, given their ‘misalignment’ to the country. We also show that, when they do move, non-aligned individuals tend to relocate to a district to which they can then feel (re)aligned.

Published in

Political Geography


Volume: 95:102576







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