Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Completed Projects

Project Title:

Modelling the occupational mobility of return migrants to Scotland 1991-2001

Project Number:



David McCollum (University of Dundee)
Allan Findlay (University of Dundee)

Start Date:

Approved on 13-08-2010


Previous studies have used longitudinal data to investigate the occupational mobility of Scottish migrants in England and of immigrants in Scotland. Findlay et al (2008 and 2009) used the ONS LS to assess the occupational mobility of Scots in the South East of England and found that they enjoy high levels of upward mobility both in this ‘escalator’ region and elsewhere in England relative to English born residents. Findings emerging from other data sources analysed in these studies are that Scots in the South East return at an early stage in their careers and that they are more eager to return than other regional migrants there.

More recently research carried out by Van Ham et al (2010) has used the Scottish Longitudinal Study to investigate the occupational mobility of English and Welsh migrants relative to overseas migrants in the Scottish labour market. This study found that migrants living in Scotland who were born in England and Wales enjoyed greater levels of upward occupational mobility than both overseas and Scots born residents of Scotland.

Our planned study seeks to follow the approach taken by Van Ham et al (2010) in that the occupational mobility of migrant groups in Scotland 1991-2001 will be the central focus of interest. However our study will incorporate Scottish-born return migrants to Scotland and make them the central focus of the analysis. This will contribute to existing research since it is reasonable to expect that a sizeable proportion of in-migrants to Scotland are in fact Scots return migrants yet little is currently known about how this group progresses in the labour market relative to other in-migrants in Scotland. The study will draw on the SLS study cohorts and descriptive analysis of migrants’ characteristics developed by McCollum during the summer of 2009.

This project models the occupational mobility of return migrants to Scotland 1991-2001.

The target group (return migrants) will be compared with three other populations: in-migrants from England & Wales, in-migrants from overseas and Scots stayers.

Four separate logistic regressions are planned. These will assess the probability of:

  1. Being in a high occupational status job in 2001;
  2. Experiencing upward occupational mobility 1991-2001;
  3. Experiencing downward occupational mobility 1991-2001;
    (All controlled for migration status and a range of socio-demographic variables).
  4. Migrating to/from Scotland controlled for a range of socio-demographic variables (separate model for each of the four subpopulations).


Findlay, A.M., Mason, C., Harrison, R., Houston, D. and McCollum, D. (2008) Getting off the escalator? Environment and Planning A, 40, 2169-2185.

Findlay, A. Mason, C. Houston, D. McCollum, D. and Harrison, R. (2009) Escalators, elevators and travelators: the occupational mobility of migrants to South-East England, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 35(6), 861-879.

Van Ham, M. Findlay, A. Manley, D. and Feijten, P. (2010). 'Social Mobility: Is There an Advantage in Being English in Scotland?' Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). Discussion Paper No. 4797. March 2010.

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