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 722.

    If the amount paid in unemployment and other benefits to British people unable to get jobs (or not forced to take them) due to EU nationals working here is deducted, I'll bet there is a net loss, not a net gain. EU nationals should only be allowed to work here once any able-bodied person is off the unemployment register.

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    Top rated comments are hilarious for their lack of understanding . Xenophobes make judgments based on beliefs rather than facts. Explaining facts to them will not serve to change their opinions, it will instead backfire and reinforce their misguided beliefs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 720.

    Apples are good for you

    But what about 10 apples? Or 1000 apples? Or 300,000 apples? What if someone keeps shoveling apples onto you, long after you're full until you're buried in apples? What if the government decided that everyone MUST eat 50 apples a day, and then forced 50 apples into your home every day? How long until you have nothing but apples?

  • rate this

    Comment number 719.

    New Zealand

    These all countries were Built by blood and sweat of immigrants, Without immigrants these countries will be having no place in world map now. If this truth hurts you, you can mark me negative.

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    Highest rated comment is about changing culture - reminds me of the goodness gracious me sketch of Indians in Bombay going out every Friday night for an "English" - here's the link and if you have not seen it - watch it - puts everything into perspective when people post about culture....

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    My village has very hard working immigrants running restaurants, take-aways etc. They pay their taxes and would probably love to get as much per week as the benefit cap allows.Instead they are paying for others to get it. The ones people object to are those who arrive, hands outstretched, saying "house please, money please, free everything please" and pay zilch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.


  • Comment number 715.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    How can this report be accurate when according to the previous EU report .. the UK government doesn't currently record nationality?"

    Your question is answered in section 3 starting on p 15 of the report. If you can't be bothered to read it, why do you expect someone else to do the hard work for you? If you don't agree with the methodology then contact the authors with your concerns

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    @690.All for All
    .... 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)

    .... I think your option 1 sounds like the most fun... don't you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.


    This is an EU/ BBC approved document.

    Reader discretion is advised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    I drove through Firth Park in Sheffield at the weekend, it used to be a posh area of Sheffield with a Grammar school. In the 70's it started to resemble an Indian/Pakistan ghetto, now the Eastern Europeans have arrived. What Enoch said will eventually become fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    What does "contribute to economy" mean?
    Gulliver arrives in Lilliput and gets a job in a cuckoo clock factory, makes 1 clock/wk, is paid £250/wk, and spends it all on rent, food etc.
    Clock sells for £400.

    Where does the £150 [1] come from (each week) to buy the clock he makes?

    [1] £250 of the £400 comes from Gulliver spending all he earns, leaving us £150 short.

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    Who paid the University College to do the study. Perhaps it was the Government

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    An immigrant is just someone who used to live somewhere else. None of you ever moved house?

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    "used to live next to 2 poles... on benefits... part of the drugs trade.... on parole... not all migrants sure, but there's a lot that are like this in many areas."

    Up the road from me lives a career criminal, never worked a day in his life, free Council house in a very nice location. He's white British.

    My default setting is not 'most Brits are therefore criminals, but not all'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    UCL, the uni that produced this study is heavily dependent on both EU grants and the fees of EU students. One example:

    Marie Curie intra-European Fellowships for career development (IEF)

    Budget: 120.000.000,00 €.

    Doesn't this represent a conflict of interest?

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    Sad to say it depends on the immigrants. Those that have cultures similar to our own and assimilate and intigrate are no problem but those that choose to escape their culture, their countries and their people only to bring it here and then expect us to adapt to their culture and hate our culture are the ones who are resented by the majority.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    NEWS! .........................................................................................

    India launches spacecraft to mars, whilst we donate millions to India in aid? Is it the same people that calculated this report that is in charge of the aid budget?

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    681 "the Spanish 'Costas' are a very recent example! Why object to this in reverse?" - ah yes, the TMR argument, there is a huge difference between 50,000 wealth ex pats setting up home in (the much larger) Spain and living a retired lifestyle and 200,000 immigrants arriving annually to claim benefits, depress wages and put pressure on local services.


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