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 762.

    The quick influx of immigrants has clearly put a serious strain on some infrastructure, the most obvious being housing

    Due to the age of those coming in they rarely use the NHS and claim few benefits (other than working families tax credits and maybe housing benefits)

    Although I have to compete with them for jobs (which may push down wages) I accept that we need them to pay for our elderly

  • rate this

    Comment number 761.

    so im guessing that when the "new" immigrants arrive next year - we wont see any needing any "start up" money from welfare or a bedsit here or there from the council or any help to get started! as according to comments on here they are able to "do it all themselves!

  • rate this

    Comment number 760.

    Immigration Calculation on back of Fag packet!

    Real Calculation.
    Loss or profit = Immigration benefits - Extra Schools and School places - Cost of Interpreters - Use of NHS - Benefits to UK unemployed who would otherwise have a job - Cost of illegal Immigration - Loss of Housing(rental or Social) - Extra burden on all Transport - Wider social tensions - money sent to home countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 759.

    Well I suppose everyone is happy, the business owners get low wage workers, but what about the young low skilled natives who are now unemployed?

    The costs of immigration are down played by the left wing - around here the low wage workers are having babies (massive cost) and bringing in not so young relatives - huge costs to tax payers

  • rate this

    Comment number 758.

    Recent immigrants to UK 'make net contribution'


    Yes, their 'net contribution' is a huge net that catches all the loose money coming out of our pockets!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 757.

    We're not as small and overcrowded as people would like to think. Try visiting the Lake District and Mid Wales as I did this weekend (a tour seeing family) and you'll see that bits of the UK are quite underpopulated. We're 56th in the world table by population density. Unfettered immigration is not desirable, but our situation is not as bad as the tabloids would have you believe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 756.

    Multiculturalism does not really exist. Anybody who live in any city can tell you that. Places are becoming more segregated.

    But the biggest problem of immigration is the downward pressure on wages. Ask anybody in IT which has been massively affected be the amount of Indian workers willing to work for less

  • rate this

    Comment number 755.

    Aamir @ 730
    "... can you point me to any sources that in your opinion are reliable/neutral/objective/unbiased?"

    Try this:

  • rate this

    Comment number 754.

    721. Pale Blue Dot
    ...Explaining facts to them will not serve to change their opinions, it will instead backfire and reinforce their misguided beliefs.
    You have such a winning personality don't you? People really want to listen to you and take on board everything you say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 753.

    12.DaveT "Why, what is the reason behind it..?"

    Because it's a game of International chess with countries trying not to offend others, it's used as bargaining tools for trade and war alliances, airspace usage, shipping rights etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 752.

    This would be the last country i would want to come to if i were an immigrant full of now it alls and a government (unelected) that to keep the masses down blame everything on Labour or Immigrants and just read the comments on here and you will see its working, i totally believe the report. Polish people for example put us to shame when it comes to hard graft they excel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 751.

    714.Alaric the Visigoth
    I was refering to those who post on here claiming that this report vindicates immigrtion when it clearly doesn't when the government doesn't record nationality. I'd love to read the report, as I read the one from the EU but my pdf is broken and I can't figure out how to fix it!

  • rate this

    Comment number 750.

    What's the point in taking £4k from an immigrant worker in tax when we have to give the UK worker (who might have had the same job) about £10k in benefits?

    Political joined up thinking a casualty as ever

  • rate this

    Comment number 749.

    as recently put forward by a political party they should simply say you cannot receive benefits, social housing or free healthcare until you've paid into the system for three years regardless of nationality.

    You will stop young UK people going straight on the dole and i expect a drop in immigration as the easy money and housing is no longer so easy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 748.

    Utter rubbish. This is just political propaganda, ignoring any facts that contradict the author’s preconceived views. If only these HYS comments were as balanced and well researched as the UCL report we might have a sensible debate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 747.

    @ 12. Dave T.

    "...immigration is changing the face of the cities and culture... without any discussion with us the people..."

    I take your point but can't help feeling that if we the people were always consulted about immigration, these islands would be populated by 8 Celts and a handful of water voles.

  • Comment number 746.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    How much does the EU pay the BBC to spout this propaganda?

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    Estimates are that there are nearly 1 million illegal immigrants in London.
    Here's an idea. If a business is caught employing them, they have 2 options, pay a £50k fine or give a proper job to someone who is eligible to live and work in the country. Might help with unemployment and discourage people to employ illegals and maybe reduce the number of illegals coming here?

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    Rubbish!! It is admitted that we don't even know how many immigrants we are basing these claims. This is all about suppressing bigotry.


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