Recent immigrants to UK 'make net contribution'


Prof Christian Dustmann: Immigrants 'contribute to public finances'

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Immigrants to the UK since 2000 have made a "substantial" contribution to public finances, a report says.

The study by University College London said recent immigrants were less likely to claim benefits and live in social housing than people born in Britain.

The authors said rather than being a "drain", their contribution had been "remarkably strong".

The government said it was right to have strict rules in place to help protect the benefits system.

Immigrants who arrived after 1999 were 45% less likely to receive state benefits or tax credits than UK natives in the period 2000-2011, according to the report by Prof Christian Dustmann and Dr Tommaso Frattini from UCL's Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration.

They were also 3% less likely to live in social housing.

"These differences are partly explainable by immigrants' more favourable age-gender composition. However, even when compared to natives with the same age, gender composition, and education, recent immigrants are still 21% less likely than natives to receive benefits," the authors say.

'Highly-educated immigrants'

Those from the European Economic Area (EEA - the EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) had made a particularly positive contribution in the decade up to 2011, contributing 34% more in taxes than they received in benefits.

Start Quote

"Given this evidence, claims about 'benefit tourism' by EEA immigrants seem to be disconnected from reality”

End Quote Report co-author Prof Christian Dustmann

Immigrants from outside the EEA contributed 2% more in taxes than they received in the same period, the report showed.

Over the same period, British people paid 11% less in tax than they received.

Despite the positive figures in the decade since the millennium, the study found that between 1995 and 2011, immigrants from non-EEA countries claimed more in benefits than they paid in taxes, mainly because they tended to have more children than native Britons.

The report also showed that in 2011, 32% of recent EEA immigrants and 43% of non-EEA immigrants had university degrees, compared with 21% of the British adult population.


The research used data from the British Labour Force Survey and government reports. Prof Dustmann said it had shown that "in contrast with most other European countries, the UK attracts highly-educated and skilled immigrants from within the EEA as well as from outside".

He added: "Our study also suggests that over the last decade or so, the UK has benefited fiscally from immigrants from EEA countries, who have put in considerably more in taxes and contributions than they received in benefits and transfers.

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The real issue for the future is the very large numbers of low-paid immigrants from eastern Europe”

End Quote Sir Andrew Green, Migration Watch

"Given this evidence, claims about 'benefit tourism' by EEA immigrants seem to be disconnected from reality."

Sir Andrew Green of the pressure group Migration Watch said the report had "been spun".

"We've had roughly four million immigrants under the previous government - two-thirds of those were from outside the European Union," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

He said the report found that, "since 1995, they have made a negative contribution overall".

He added: "So the verdict for non-EU is that the benefit to the exchequer is minimal or negative."

He accepted that "if you take the whole of the EU", the benefit was "clearly positive".

But Sir Andrew said this would be expected "because you are including German engineers, French fashion designers and - as it's the European Economic Area - even Swiss bankers [sic]".

"The real issue for the future is the very large numbers of low-paid immigrants from eastern Europe," he said.

He added: "The report looks backwards but doesn't look forwards.

"The professor's report does not take into account - no doubt for good reason - future health costs as migrants get older nor the pension bill, which is huge."

Career peak

Start Quote

It's absolutely right that we have strict rules in place to protect the integrity of the British benefits system to ensure it's not abused”

End Quote Government spokesman

Prof Dustmann told Today: "It is true that recent immigrants are younger but they are also much better educated.

"So they will take more out of the benefit system but they will also contribute more in the future because they have not yet reached their career peak and their full income potential.

"Of course, the more you earn, the more you pay in taxes."

A spokesman for the government said: "We welcome those that want to come here to contribute to the economy, but it's absolutely right that we have strict rules in place to protect the integrity of the British benefits system to ensure it's not abused."


He added that this was why the government was strengthening measures to ensure that benefits are only paid to people who are "legally allowed to live in Britain".

Meanwhile, a separate UCL study released on Tuesday warns that the government's target to cut net migration to the UK to the tens of thousands is "neither a useful tool nor a measure of policy effectiveness".

That report argues that actions to cut work-related, student and family migration have damaged the UK's reputation as a good place to work and study.

The 2011 census showed that 13% of the population of England and Wales was born outside the UK.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    No doubt immigrants contribute to the system. Many good workers, just like most people want to get on
    That said, the report gives no figures in regards to immigrants cost other services, NHS, Schools etc
    Still think door should be shut until we at least get 90% of the 1m unemployed young into work. Then 3/4m + British people would stop claiming benefits. Not open further to Bulgarians & Romanians

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    For every one of these immigrants doing retail/unskilled work a British person is stuck on the dole.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    People who come to this country who work hard and succeed is what it's all about.

    People who come to this country to enjoy our benefit system aren't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    IN all aspects of life there is the economy, society and the environment. Quantifying people's contribution solely in economic terms just shows what the government gives priority to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    The problem is not immigration - it is the government that does not spend the extra revenue generated on the public services necessary to cater for a larger population

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    'Recent immigrants to UK 'make net contribution''. Where is the proof?

    What about the costs for healthcare and schools the state pays for, is this taken into account when they do their calculations?

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Bearing in mind how many immigrants work in the NHS and the Professions these results are hardly surprising.

    The next 10 years' results will be particularly interesting as I suspect the differential will be even more pronounced.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    And for every immigrant since 2000 who works, a UK person is on the dole claiming benefit.

    Close the borders and make those on the dole do the jobs the immigrants are doing, cabbage bagging and fruit picking do not require a diploma.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    "Selective Data".
    A particular immigrant may make a positive contribution, but in taking a UK job exactly one other person stays on benefit. If the migrant had not taken the job and the already UK based person did, there is one less person on beneift. Extrapolate.
    Fact is we have 5 million more people here than jobs. End of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Although important this is not the point that most people worry about, which is the rise in immigration is changing the face of the cities and culture.
    This has been done by successive governments without any discussion with us the people.... Why, what is the reason behind it..?

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Immigration has become an essential tool to get the work done that Lazy work shy British people think they are too good for.

    If we got our own house in order, there wouldn't be a problem.

    This is the usual case of people blaming others for their problems and not getting up and taking responsibility for their own lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    This report does not take into account the big picture. Mass immigration is not just measured in how much tax an immigrant pays compared to the benefits claimed. The big picture needs to account for the affect that the immigrants have on accommodation where prices are forced up due to huge demand. The cost on schools, hospitals, etc. all services that have to expand to meet the growing population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    #2 We actually import far less food proportionally than in WW2. You might remember too that if you go to Lincs & East anglia the people picking crops are almost exclusively eastern european. There's a noticeable absence of white brits picking potatoes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I suspect what the study doesn't take into account is the cost of unemployment benefit paid to UK people who would have otherwise been employed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Pretty sure I pay 100% more tax than I receive...

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    How can these figures have credence , when government has no idea how many entered the country ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Please BBC, open something else for comments instead. This is just going to go over the same old ground again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    They used Data from the Government. The same folk who said they completely lost track of numbers and have no idea what the true situation is. But of course will have massaged the figures as much as possible to make it look as presentable as possible. Then get some halfwitted Academics in to study those figures and records. Sheer Madness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Ssssh, dont tell the press, what will they write about?! Everyone knows that 95% of immigrants contribute positively. I work with people from all over the world and Europe, without exception they are clever, intelligent people who work very hard and are very good at what they do, none are a drain on our society.


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