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Part 3: Living in London

Figure 1 shows the geographical distribution of workers across the capital by residence. The map shows the heavy concentration of low paid workers in the London Boroughs known for socio-economic deprivation and concentrations of minority ethnic populations, such as Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham. Few, if any, workers were found in the wealthier boroughs and suburbs.

Figure 1: Place of Residence of Low Paid Workers in London.

To gain a more rounded picture of their lives, the researchers asked people why they had come to London. It showed that work and perceived opportunities to earn an income was the single most important reason that people had migrated to London/UK (Table 4). However, a significant proportion (25%) also reported that they had come to London to be with their family, or to join friends and acquaintances. This reinforces a picture of 'chain migration' with many of London's newest migrants following in the footsteps of family and friends who have already moved to the UK. Only 16% of respondents reported that they had come to the UK for educational purposes and a remarkably small minority reported moving for political reasons (such as fleeing war or persecution in their home countries).

It appears that those same networks that enable people to move to the UK are also crucial in helping migrants find work. Indeed, nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents had found their current jobs through family or friends. Whilst aiding the search for employment, such networks may also buttress ethnic and gender segregation within the labour market as people follow their family or friends into particular jobs (Hagan, 1998).

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