Recent immigrants to UK 'make net contribution'


Prof Christian Dustmann: Immigrants 'contribute to public finances'

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    I'm one of those immigrants - despite being of UK ancestry.

    The rampant xenophobia being demonstrated across the UK is saddening and it's worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of it is targetted at intra-EU migrants which no government policy can stop.

    Immigrants from outside the EU have no access to council housing, benefits, etc and haven't for decades. The hysteria is a misdirection.

  • rate this

    Comment number 561.

    When I ran a medium size business I employed people purely on the basis of who was the best person for the job, and ended up employing a disproportionate number of Polish workers because of their inbuilt work ethic. If the UK want an economy that benefits everyone we need to disregard race and colour, and make a effort to improve education and workplace training.

  • rate this

    Comment number 560.

    So a NET financial gain which means that some immigrants represent a financial loss to the country. If we can address this in a fair way than the Net gains will be higher.

    Could we also say that where there is a Net financial gain for immigrants that has caused a Net loss across non immigrants?

    Looks like statistics being used as smoke and mirrors to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 559.

    I do nothink anyone really doubts the contribution immigrants can make.
    People get angry because the benefit system is so easily accessible, this has to be a failing by our Government. If you go to visit or work in another country, you should bring enough money to support yourself for a period of time (3-6 months for example), you should also arrange private health care for yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 558.

    There are Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics and UCL Studies. Think about it- the result of the study is that EEA immigrants contributed 34% more than they received in benefits. This excludes school costs for immigrants children, health costs etc. It also completely ignores the overwhelming fact that if the immigrant takes a job that a local could do this will only result in the local claiming benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 557.


    If I take in a lodger that would contribute positively to my families finances. If I took in ten lodgers that would contribute even more

    However cramming ten lodgers in would significantly lower the quality of life in the household.

    A balance has to be struck.



  • rate this

    Comment number 556.

    My comment was removed after a number of people agreed with it. Everything I said is in the public domain but breaks the BBC rules. Nor was it racist. It was fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 555.

    503. Welsh Dragon - So is it Germans and educated Russians who are migrating here?

    Whilst I agree with your observation on the avg. UK mathematical standards etc. I think you need to work on your 'argument'. The immigrants are largely from the bottom of the ladder, not highly educated mathematicians usurping our lower maths qualified workforce. Or maybe all Nigerians & Somalians have MathsPhd's?

  • rate this

    Comment number 554.

    510 - Zrzavy has it right....there are too many people on this island. And statistics saying there are around 65 million people here? Get real people and get your figures right...There were 65 million people here in 1990....
    There is no solution for everyone guys - I see the country I live in and fought for being eroded rapidly everyday by things like mass immigration. Sick Britain.

  • Comment number 553.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 552.

    A few weeks ago it was reported that the Government doesnt know how many migrants have come to the UK, but now the UCL claims that migration makes a net contribution... Who is doing the sums? Are UCL now admitting preschoolers?

    How can you calculate the net benefit if you dont know a basic fact like how many migrants are coming here?

    This is just left wing tripe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    Social science papers need to be prevented from being used for propaganda purposes as this one clearly is. It is head-lollingly simplistic report of the sort I would expect a high school student to come up with.

    The key missing factor is the displacement effect, which is the principle complaint that most immigration-haters have. Without this, the report is nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    People who have worked hard and paid into the benefits\Tax system all their lives, now find they are unemployed, and have to compete for jobs with the influx of immigrants from Eastern European countries, and on top of this, are labelled scroungers, whilst MPs who have allowed this to happen, sit back on their £66,396 minimum salaries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    We know they work, but wouldn't you if a low paid job meant a middle class life in your home land? For the unskilled worker here it means benefits and living in filth, motivated? no I thought not!
    It's nothing to do with racial background it's all about the money. Low paid & try here make nothing of themselves, hard work will not create the dream. Go back to where 100 gbp = 700 of yours = happy

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    This entire comment section summarised

    - I don't like immigration because X


    Seriously, actually post some counterarguments other that BUT ITS RASSIS TO QUESTION 200K IMMIGRANTS EVERY YEAR.

    Even if it is racism, that's not really countering things like increased competition for jobs and increased strain on public services.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    The fact that the conclusion about financial benefit is dependent on which time period and which group of migrants we consider just shows how complicated the economics of it is. This is just considering taxes versus benefits and its not clear whether 'benefits' includes everything a government spends on its citizens like health, schools, policing etc. All these cost money and have to be paid for.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.


    A town I grew up in has an area as a pretty much no go area for me now. I used to walk to and from town through this area because it was the route back to my parents house in the suburbs. This was 20 years ago. Now? I don't dare to because I get abused for not wearing a veil.

    So who is racist in this? me or them? Oh wait Immigrants can't be racist to locals right?

  • Comment number 545.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    Of course immigrants contribute more to the economy than they withdraw, they are younger than the indigenous population.
    However, they grow old.
    The other thing is they depress wages in the low wage, low skill jobs. Thereby, requiring more indigenous people to receiving benefits ie tax credits etc.
    Just looking at tax paid and benefits received is too simplistic, in my opinion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    Multiculturalism has failed"

    Please enlighten us at to what "mono" culture you think most represents the UK you know and love? Is it found on (say) Downton Abbey? How about "Ripper Street"? Because the UK now is as different from them as they are from each other. What you think is British is as alien to me as either of us from incoming cultures. UK has been multicultural for centuries.


Page 64 of 92


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.