Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Migration and welfare state spending

  • Stuart N. Soroka (a1), Richard Johnston (a2), Anthony Kevins (a3), Keith Banting (a4) and Will Kymlicka (a5)...

Is international migration a threat to the redistributive programmes of destination countries? Existing work is divided. This paper examines the manner and extent to which increases in immigration are related to welfare state retrenchment, drawing on data from 1970 to 2007. The paper makes three contributions: (1) it explores the impact of changes in immigration on social welfare policy over both the short and medium term; (2) it examines the possibility that immigration matters for spending not just directly, but indirectly, through changes in demographics and/or the labour force; and (3) by disaggregating data on social expenditure into subdomains (including unemployment, pensions, and the like), it tests the impact of immigration on different elements of the welfare state. Results suggest that increased immigration is indeed associated with smaller increases in spending. The major pathway is through impact on female labour force participation. The policy domains most affected are ones subject to moral hazard, or at least to rhetoric about moral hazard.

Corresponding author
Hide All
A. Alesina , R. Baqir and W. Easterly (1999), ‘Public goods and ethnic divisions’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics 114(4): 12431284.

A. Alesina and E.L. Glaeser (2004), Fighting Poverty in the US and Europe, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

G.J. Borjas (1999), ‘Migration and welfare magnets’, Journal of Labor Economics 17(4): 607637.

B. Burgoon , F. Koster and M. van Egmond (2012), ‘Support for redistribution and the paradox of immigration’, Journal of European Social Policy 22(3): 288304.

P. Emmenegger and R. Klemmensen (2013), ‘What motivates you? The relationship between preferences for redistribution and attitudes toward immigration’, Comparative Politics 45(2): 227246.

G.P. Freeman (1986), ‘Migration and the political economy of the welfare state’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 485: 5163.

C. Giulietti , M. Guzi , M. Kahanec and K.F. Zimmermann (2013), ‘Unemployment benefits and immigration: evidence from the EU’, International Journal of Manpower 34(1): 2438.

E. Huber and J.D. Stephens (2001), Development and Crisis of the Welfare State: Parties and Policies in Global Markets, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

A. Jacobs (2011), Governing for the Long Term: Democracy and the Politics of Investment, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

W. Korpi and J. Palme (2003), ‘New politics and class politics in the context of austerity and globalization: welfare state regress in 18 countries, 1975–95’, American Political Science Review 97(3): 425446.

C.S. Lipsmeyer and L. Zhu (2011), ‘Migration, globalization, and unemployment benefits in developed EU states’, American Journal of Political Science 55: 647664.

S. Mau and C. Burkhardt (2009), ‘Migration and welfare state solidarity in Western Europe’, Journal of European Social Policy 19(3): 213229.

P. Nannestad (2007), ‘Migration and welfare states: a survey of 15 years of research’, European Journal of Political Economy 23(2): 512532.

K. Ove Moene and M. Wallerstein (2001), ‘Targeting and political support for welfare spending’, Economics of Governance 2(1): 324.

B. Rothstein (1998), Just Institutions Matter: The Moral and Political Logic of the Universal Welfare State, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

H. Stichnoth and K.V.D Straeten (2013), ‘Ethnic diversity, public spending and individual support for the welfare state: a review of the empirical literature’, Journal of Economic Surveys 27(2): 364389.

W. van Oorschot (2000), ‘Who should get what, and why?’, Policy and Politics. 28(1): 3349.

M. Zavodny (1999), ‘Determinants of recent migrants’ locational choices’, International Migration Review 33(4): 10141030.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

European Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 1755-7739
  • EISSN: 1755-7747
  • URL: /core/journals/european-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 24
Total number of PDF views: 291 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 877 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 18th October 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.