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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  • Comment number 702.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    This isn't news. We already know immigrants "make a net contribution". Legal immigrants that is. The media and the public are trying to divert attention from the problems they create if and when the sheer numbers get too high. i.e. The drain on public services and the fact that youth unemployment is being made worse by bringing in more people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    We should ask what REAL contribution has been made by a UCL Prof who tells us that a mobile population of young fit people contributes more per head than a fixed population containing the old, infirm, ill, disabled and carers for other family members.

    What has he done to earn his crust beyong stating the B*******g Obvious?

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    I'm not sure about the methodology used in this very suprising study but I would suspect "immigrants" probably includes Roman Abramovitch and other rich non doms and doesn't include some of the less economically positive newcomers to Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    This is a very misleading article
    It only compares both sides of the BENIFIT SYSTEM & does not include the cost of immigant crime, terrorisism surveilance, deportation appeals, housing, schooling, health, transport, energy, water etc, etc
    Each of the above catagories opens up a list of sub-catagory costs
    A huge drain on UK finite resourses

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    671.Immigrant Myself

    How very well said. May I take the time to thank you for coming here to settle and contribute what fine words. However a word its is pointless you pointing out to progressive liberals your well articulated and well made points. As these people themselves are racists. patronising racist. They do not want an alternative view any alternative is default racist. pointless

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    One of the many benefits of being in the EU

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    17 Minutes ago
    What if Spain said, "Go home, smelly British immigrants!"?

    Then they would be a much poorer country for it. Typical Ex Pat spends the money they made in this country in their new homeland. They are also more likely to have medical cover, no kids at school and not be inclined to change Spanish/or any other culture & traditions

  • rate this

    Comment number 694.

    I don't accept this report as the truth - Why would I?

    it is pure undiluted propaganda.

    I must be a racist - ok live with it - I have to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 693.

    With these figures why doesn't the government introduce legislation to ship all British born people from the UK to Uzbekistan and maintain a 1:1 swap with migrants, then everybody will be happy.

    At least we wouldn't have to listen to Tory propaganda rubbish...

    First question to challenge these figures. How many migrants are there in this country. Answer ? Nobody knows.

  • rate this

    Comment number 692.

    at least we now have a least one argument that says immigration is a good thing. If we go back in time to our ancestors i think you will find that 80% of us are immigrants from romans vikings french etc. this immigration is what made us british this is what made our society and culture. the only argument left is how many so called immigrants do we have

  • rate this

    Comment number 691.

    659. Dunnengel

    So true!

    I'm an immigrant.

    I moved here from South Africa when I was 18 and had a 2 jobs within a month, a full time job in a year, put myself through university after 3 years and now work in the city as a broker. I needed some extra cash recently so got a second job in catering within a week.

    There is simply no excuse to laze about without work. Move cities if you have to!

  • rate this

    Comment number 690.

    Mass-migration train-crash, or cultural enrichment, or BOTH?

    We all have our own impressions, from experience and the media, our ideas varying and evolving of 'what is happening', locally and in very different places 'across the nation'

    As to HOW things can happen so divisively, and HOW to make all things better for all:
    1. Sham democracy (unequal & corrupt)
    2. Real democracy (equal partnership)

  • Comment number 689.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 688.

    The Tories and the far right would have a better position in arguments if the illegal immigrants working on farms were not doing so in areas that are long held Tory seats.

    There may though be more jobs if organisations (libraries etc) were not relying on volunteers as per Cameron's Big Society where previously a person was employed. It isn't just immigrants taking jobs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 687.


    The native australians should have been more right wing or used their own technological advances to stop the colonists....before it all went to pot for them.

    Sounds like the immigrant colonists were bad for the natives, sound familiar?

  • rate this

    Comment number 686.

    Surely it's not about what immigrants contribute, but the fact that the country is over populated already. Maybe if the government did not constantly interfere with the education system people here would be suitably educated to fill all the jobs we need.

  • rate this

    Comment number 685.

    ton8ray @ 649 says:
    "We were desperate for immigrants to come in and boost the economy."

    And how desperate was the homeland nation for the skills of those who simply left for greed instead of building their own nations?

  • rate this

    Comment number 684.

    654. LondonDave
    Anyone who thinks a lack of immigration is a good thing should take an equally terrifying walk through Bridgwater in Somerset, better you do it at night actually though, the lack of light is more forgiving.

  • Comment number 683.

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


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