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 742.

    I don't think even those who are concerned about immigration expected migrants to be a financial net drain- if so a major plank of economic policy would implode. Nevertheless, it is overall standard of living and the per capita output that is important. I hope this report is not used by the BBC (Mark Easton anyone?) to suggest that it is now case closed and immigration is always wonderful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    Does the country need this extra influx of low skilled workers?

    The answer is NO and a condemnation of government and the EU.

    The European leaders dream of a federal Europe with open borders is turning into a nightmare and our governments negligence in providing indigenous skills for our future needs is beyond inept.

    What will happen is buisnesses will exploit this cheap labour at our expense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    How does " the study found that between 1995 and 2011, immigrants from non-EEA countries claimed more in benefits than they paid in taxes," equate to a positive contribution. That's before adding in the cost of additional resources provided for schooling, transport, NHS.

    Total bunkum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    For those saying "Immigrants take jobs" - Non-EU migrants can ONLY be employed if there are no locals OR EU citizens suitable.

    Railing against intra-EU migrants here is utterly pointless. The only way to exclude them would be to leave the EU - and if that happens there are as many British citizens across the EU who would find themselves pushed back to the UK as EU citizens who would leave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    Yes, and I'm a triple Euro millions lottery winner trying to get out of Britain.
    (If only)

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    I recently spent a few days in hospital. The doctors were white British. The nursing staff, cleaning staff, catering staff were about 95% non British. The patients I saw or heard were about 75% non British.

    We are not traing our own nurses and it looks like we are trying to cure the rest of the World.

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    What a load of rubbish. Who is paying for this report and what political party does its author support? Does this report taker into account illegal immigrants if so how considering no-one knows how many hundreds of thousands there are here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    These propagandists = DANGEROUS - read above comments

    When things go wrong who loses. The majority of masses, low/middle people LOSE.
    Those of wealth/power have access to dictate control/distribute resources/guns/military/security

    Majority of population are just disposable "acceptable collateral damage".

    Immigration since 1995 has speeded up the bubble growth

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    Nations with aging population need immigrants to support their state pension, or they will have to raise taxes. The problem becomes bigger when you have a workforce that is overpaid, under-educated and an education system that's failing. I think UK fits most of the categories.
    Hating immigrants changes nothing, so embrace them because we need them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    People must read the report carefully.

    It does not claim all immigration is a Good Thing, nor even that it's equally or always economically beneficial.

    However, it does destroy some of the phoney arguments, behind which hatemongers hide their agenda.

    No one is pretending it does not also bring some problems, which require equally cool analysis and address, but let's not confuse things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    "...80% of us are immigrants from Romans Vikings French etc, this immigration is what made us british"

    It did indeed. The big difference being the Vikings, Romans, and Celts etc fought like warriors to inhabit these isles, survival of the fittest so to speak.

    The latest waves of migrants are economic, and are contributing very little, culturally; which is very important to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    Same old trash from the mouths of sponsored pen pushers.

    How about something more important, given that politicians spend ten times my electricity bill on their second homes.

    Are these the types to have shares in our rip off privatised power companies?

    Another of my duck ponds need cleaning, so I'll be off now, to find a cheap "less likely to be receiving benefits" immigrant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    712. Pakgila
    This is an EU/ BBC approved document.
    Reader discretion is advised.


    So, can you point me to any sources that in your opinion are reliable/neutral/objective/unbiased?

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    Alaric the Visigoth

    Yes it does change from one generation to another, but what I think many people worry about is that British people will not be able to pass on their culture to their children and grandchildren to change as they see fit but change will be imposed from outside of our culture. this is important as people need a sense of community/cultural identity for their well being.

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    660.Aristotles Y fronts "The BBC is just a propaganda machine, they pick and choose which news to report."

    But no-one is disputing the story, and if they reported every story we'd be spending the whole of our evenings watching the news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    We pay £53,000,000 per day to the EU club to support the poorer states. But their people aren't there - they're here in the UK!
    The EU gives 520,000,000 Euros to Mali, spends £2,400,000,000 on advertising and 50,000 children not living in the UK receive Child Benefit! MAD

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    Come on BBC - you're being very selective in your reporting yet again...

    Sir Andrew said ...
    "We've had roughly four million immigrants under the previous government - two-thirds of those were from outside the European Union,"
    and he also said before the above that if you look at it the other way, 1/3rd of those 4 million immigrants were a negative drain on the countries resources.

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.


    Or is driving themselves into an early grave trying to find a job that at least pays for rent and food, whilst being told 'nope you need to speak polish' or 'you need to somehow move to london when you don't have two pennies to rub together'

    People say British born should move if they want to find jobs, how? We can't afford to. Plus housing lists favour migrants with kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.

    687. nicknack1

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

    To postulate the UK is being colonised through immigration by a vastly militarily superior colonial power with the "natives" massacred, enslaved and subjugated would point more to a psychological problem than a demographic one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    A lot of "they took our jobs" posts here. When I was a teenager and worked in factories I was amazed by the amount of british young people who would think it was ok not to come to work because it was boring without even giving notice. People will hire who is cheapest and most reliable....people of all races who think they are owed something in life are not desirable employees.


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