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 262.

    Typical BBC trying to convince the public that vast open door immigration is a good thing, The BBC would explode if the truth was known as it spoils their socialist agenda. It is simple we have too many to cope with our infrastructure is bursting and free hand outs is bankrupting us. Social unrest is also another factor which gets ignored visit bradford!

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    Cut to Nigel Farages front room. As Mrs Farage looks on bewildered, Mr Farage skips, in ever widening circles, fingers thrust firmly into his ears, shrieking la la la la la la la la la...
    In other news the Government announces plans to scrap Teresa May and have her floated to Dubai for use as a hotel and leisure facility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 260.

    How many immigrants, and decendents thereof, does it take before the country as a whole becomes non-British? We're rapidly heading in that direction, and London is already gone. And before the lefties spout their garbage about Britain being made up of immigrants, may I remind them that we're talking about the last two decades, not the past 10,000 years.

  • Comment number 259.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 258.

    Yes, but how much do they take out, I bet it costs us a whole lot more. The research is always so one sided.

  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    As a rule of thumb, it`s true immigrants make a net contribution,`s a well known countries bear the cost of raising a skilled worker, we reap the benefits

    Where`s the investors in people, willing to train UK natives..? what job sectors.....degrees in media studies , I guess %

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    The lasting effect of large scale immigration cannot be calculated financially - the resulting increase in population means a deteriorating quality of life for the population as a whole - more noise,buildings,roads,congestion - less wild places, less peace and quiet, - how much is that worth ? What is the limit to our population growth ?

  • Comment number 255.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.

    The Tory's support immigration as it keeps labour costs low for business. Cheaper to import workers than train them. Labour like immigration as it extends their franchise and keeps the working class poor so maintaining their majority. That is the reason we have mass immigration and the political elite can't / won't do a thing about it. Articles like this help justify the madness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    In general terms immigration means our education system needs improving for skill shortfalls, but why the hell should we continue asphalting and concreting our land for people who happen to want to live here, especially those without cultural, language or religious ties. Only when having full employment should immigration be contemplated. Allowing immigrants to replace UK workers is WRONG.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    More lies! watch the recent BBC programmes about benefit cheats, I rest my case!

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    None of the three main political parties EVER mentioned mass immigration as a means of improving the economy in their general election manifestos of the last sixty years

    Of course there is a very good reason for that
    They argue like cat and dog in public but all three have a hidden agenda to turn the UK into a third world dumping ground for cheap labour with NO intention of asking us first

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    Just thought I'd highlight a fact that the government doesn't record nationality on benefit claims. So how can you accurately say that they make a net contribution when you can't even say how much benefit they receive? Very poor short term thinking, our citizens won't work so import people who do. Great strategy. Not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 249.

    The problem is that these same immigrants push up demand for housing (and hence the cost). The results of which are they make everyone else less competitive due to our need to meet housing costs.

    Individually, the majority of immigrants are fine people.. but I still don't want them here, it's just too crowded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 248.

    New immigrants undercut the indigenous workforce, true. I've personally witnessed young men living 10 in a 2 bed flat, being exploited. They do it for a bit, then get papers, move their families here and start to demand a living wage, just like us!
    So the unscrupulous greedy business chums bring even more, new ones over and so it goes on.
    Good for the fat cats maybe, but no one else.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.


    They clearly DO not claim more in benefits than they pay in taxes so what is your point other than quoting made up reports?

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    Could it be that socially they are detrimental? Undercutting wages and taking jobs while at the same time occupying privately owned and rented properties

    None of this would be a problem, if our overlords had ensured a supply of housing and a controlled immigration policy instead of merely transposing our indigenous onto the "feral underclass scrap heap" as the price for their increased profits

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    171 "I am ashamed to be British. Just look at the most of the comments on here. Small minded, fearful, immigrant bashing, idiots" - I'm ashamed to be British, just look at the comments on here: supercilious, sneering, utterly convinced of their own moral superiority; desperately trying to obfuscate adult conversation on a clear issue of volume, resource and space by hinting at "racism". Morons.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    196k 2009, 252k 2010, 215k 2011, 176k 2012, total net immigration since 2009. 839,000. Gov say 1 million jobs created since they came to power yet unemployment has only dropped 20,000. 251m to 249m.
    So, 839,000 jobs which could've gone to someone who was already living here.
    Hmm, 1 million unemployed youngsters.
    These are Gov's own figures, make of them what you will.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    It's a truly sad reflection on British Society that so many people will cling to xenophobic urban myths even when regularly presented with direct evidence to the contrary.

    The knee jerk reaction by so many to assume that this new report must be wrong shows how easily people are manipulated by the hateful nationalist propaganda of sources like 'The Daily Mail', UKIP & even the current government!


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