The effects of immigration on NHS waiting times

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Journal of Health Economics


Osea Giuntella, Catia Nicodemo and Carlos Vargas Silva

Publication date


This paper analyzes the effects of immigration on waiting times for the National Health Service (NHS) in England. Linking administrative records from Hospital Episode Statistics (2003-2012) with immigration data drawn from the UK Labour Force Survey, we find that immigration reduced waiting times for outpatient referrals and did not have significant effects on waiting times in accident and emergency departments (A&E) and elective care. The reduction in outpatient waiting times can be explained by the fact that immigration increases natives’ internal mobility and that immigrants tend to be healthier than natives who move to different areas. Finally, we find evidence that immigration increased waiting times for outpatient referrals in more deprived areas outside of London. The increase in average waiting times in more deprived areas is concentrated in the years immediately following the 2004 EU enlargement and disappears in the medium term (e.g., 3 to 4 years).

Volume and page numbers

58, 123-143





Area Effects, Geography, Medicine, Demography, Migration, Economics and Health


Open Access; Under a Creative Commons license