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.

Start Quote

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 122.

    More flawed/rigged statistics. What about the ones in prison costing thousands££s yr. Doesn't even go down the "illegal" route where garages converted to living space, tenant works for cash, creates rubbish, who gives medical attention when ill? It does say non EEA have more children so why are we still paying out for more than 2 for anyone. Some send benefits abroad it seems do kids even exist

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    I'm sure they do but lets not forget that we need to build a city the size of Leeds every year just to house them all. Its unsustainable and needs to be way more tightly controlled. Something successive governments have no concept of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Have just read the report - the headlines belie the detail. There are lots of assumptions/conclusions/wordings that suggest they wanted a specific answer before they started. The data source is limited, parameters selective and assumptions dodgy! The conclusions on employment/job creation are worrying/laughable. The longer-term effects trivialised. A bad and inaccurate report in my review.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    This well researched, evidence based analysis sheds rather more light on the issue of immigration and its impacts on the UK than the usual saloon bar rhetoric. I see that a number of contributors here seem to be wilfully misunderstanding the results but it’s worth noting that, without immigration, the public sector deficit, and the borrowing needed to finance it, would have been even higher.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    It's not about how much money comes into the Government's coffers.

    It's about a small, overcrowded island that already has too many people living in it.

    Roads and trains are congested, house prices are insane, and there's less groundwater per head of population in the South East of England than Morocco.

    Why can't politicians see this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 117.

    My experience of working in manufacturing after I left Uni (2008/9- not the best year to graduate) is that many British people don't want to work or put the hours in. I was doing 12 hour shifts four or five days a week when I could (signed out of WTD) and even I was lazy compared to the Polish guys I worked with who barely had a break.
    Meanwhile every british temp did one shift and never returned

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    Can't help but feel this is slightly blinkered to the whole effect of immigration on the UK population. What about the added strain on the roads, NHS, schools, police, housing? The UK is already overpopulated. I have no problem with immigrants being in the country, just not at the expense of my hard earned tax.

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    The situation will only improve when midwives from Romania are parachuted into the UK. Rather than looking after our youth by training and investing in them, many institutions take the cheap, short cut (free market at work!) and being outsiders in already trained abroad). A ticking time bomb (for Romania and us!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    Statistics, statistics,statistics..

    So - 13% of the UK population = 8.45 million immigrants 21% = 1.77 MILLION of these taking out of the system more than they contribute.

    Add to that the effect on the NHS and social services and housing, the looney left can dress it up all it likes but anyone with half a brain can see the effect in every high street, town, city and village this is having

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    This report just goes to prove the saying that there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    So unlike the BBC to be a cheerleader for immigration. They always forget any semblance of balance. Property prices and rents that are unaffordable, wages suppressed especially for the low paid. What about crime statistics -what percentage of the prison population is foreign. I have nothing against foreign people but could we have some objectivity instead of left leaning bias.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    My ancestors have contributed over the last 1000 years to this country, so is this report suggesting that these immigrants are contributing more than over this period of time?

    All of the services we have today is from development that has taken hundreds of years, not 10 years in which immigrants have been in this country.

    Minimum wage on any immigrant £10 an hour, as they are 'skilled workers'

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    Can't see why they wouldn't make a net contribution

    They get less benefit than the natives and have to work to make up all shortfalls between income and expenditure.

    Natives don't have get narked when they see immigrants actually don't drain on taxes.

    Its usually the ones sitting on their backsides that do the complaining as well.

    The sooner all housing benefit is stopped the better

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    I was left wondering last week when I went to the doctors if I would find the automated computer system across the world in 5 languages besides the native tongue and what it costs to provide. I thought is this integration then?
    All the local Poles I know speak English better than a lot of the natives anyway.
    Why do we do it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    British dole for British shirkers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    Interesting but unrealistic. Even if the reported financial benefits were true where is the true cost of over population reflected? Transport, housing, health service, education, benefits system all collapsing. This is before we face predicted energy and food shortages. Time some politicians and so called thinkers remembered this is a small, overpopulated, island.

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    "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."

    See, some balanced BBC argument.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    1. Controlled migration of people with the skills we require and into locations where those skills are needed is sensible.
    2. Students from India, China and Pakistan etc, who pay >£15K per year in tuition fees paid for by their families and subsistence costs on top is fine as this brings money from abroad into the UK.
    3. Not having the choice as to who we allow in within the EU is the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    I suspected as much. Good stuff. They are more than welcome in my country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Not everything can be measured in £. What about social cohesion or the ever increasing lack of it? The country no longer plays as one team, and without teamwork we're finished.

    Also, what about the increased benefits bill - claimed not by the immigrants but by the British natives who have been sqeezed out of employment by an influx of cheap labour.

    Enough is enough. This island is full.


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