Migration and the welfare state

Authored by: Igor Jakubiak , Paweł Kaczmarczyk

The Routledge Handbook of the Politics of Migration in Europe

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  July  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138201187
eBook ISBN: 9781315512853
Adobe ISBN:


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Although the share of international migrants worldwide remained relatively stable, their absolute numbers increased rapidly in the last decades. This sparked concern in many industrialised states related to the sustainability and costs of welfare arrangements. The chapter provides a summary of literature addressing the relationship of welfare state and migration. Theoretical considerations are generally dependent on strict assumptions, and often provide opposite conclusions. Empirical research, however, shows that migrants – in general – do not exploit welfare systems in host societies and that their impact on public finances is small, relative to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and they can hardly impact on the well-being of natives. Several challenges are emphasised including the importance of long-term (dynamic) approach to assessment of welfare impacts of immigration, political responses to the presence of immigrants in receiving countries and possible impacts of the debate on migration and welfare on public attitudes towards migrants.

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