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 782.

    Lol, this report is like the Great Storm weather forecast of 1987.

    It focuses on the trivial while excluding/ignoring the much more significant.

    It attrociously & abhorantly corruptably conspires to restrict immigration/population argument to a few benefits issues & excludes the MORE important sustainability issues
    Are the authors related to the captain of the Titanic, or suicide clones!

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    But any additional pressure on housing when there is a shortage of it is a negative thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    Like the Australian system which has enough skilled workers you should only bring in workers to fill skill gaps but it is obvious with 40 applicants for each job that this isn't true anymore.

    Limit the immigration, we have enough but I have to say that the Polish worker, the ones I know, work very hard.

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.


    "We're not as small and overcrowded as people would like to think"


    Indeed. If the land the Normans took from our forebears, and passed to their heirs (we know who they are) were shared out, there'd be about 2 hectares per family.

    The amount under residential occupation's tiny, about 3%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    It is utterly disgraceful, but to be expected, for Andrew Green of the right-wing pressure group Migration Watch to claim - falsely - that the UCL report has been spun. It has to be borne in mind that he has no academic qualification like Professor Christian Dustmann, so his comments should be binned.
    # Kitty: Of course people can move, if, as Norman Tebbitt suggested, they "get on their bikes".

  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    @710 fUZZY
    ''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 come from (each week) to buy the clock he makes?''....


    A: My profits... which I spend

    Sir Rory Timepiece CEO MD R.S.P.B
    Lilliputian Ornamental Clocks
    Cloud Cuckoo Land

  • rate this

    Comment number 776.

    I fully agree with Jay
    UK is the last country I ever wanted to come. All my dream was the immigrant friendly USA, But my fate my company transferred to this Racist country and got locked over here. My family in India asking me why I been to UK and not USA. (They feel India is a much better place than UK) and I used to say them UK is a nice place too. people's comment here proving them right.

  • rate this

    Comment number 775.

    We wouldnt need this contribution if it wern't for the immigrants, go and look at City hospital in Birmingham for an example!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 774.

    We are all immigrants! We just came here at different times!

    Some of us are even part Neanderthal!!!!!!

    Yes, that makes you think doesn't it? I knew it would.

    Love your friends and neighbours, whether rich or poor, black or other colour.

    There is room for everybody on our happy island! Rejoice diversity. I have made great friends from other culture, you should try it!

    I highly recommend!!!!

  • Comment number 773.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 772.

    Capitalist economies need capable workers, to grow or even to keep pace.

    They need the right workers. They aren't uneducated ignorant ones who whinge whilst drinking their cups of tea.

    The UK wants to grow. She also has to be able to care for and pay the pensions of its aging population, and provide for the 20% unemployed 16 to 24 year olds.

    She needs immigrants to service its liabilities

  • rate this

    Comment number 771.

    757 - England's population density is shockingly high. Things are less bad in S, W & NI, but most of the immigrants don't tend to go there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 770.

    728. MikeS

    "But no-one is disputing the story, and if they reported every story we'd be spending ........."

    I notice more than a few people challenging the validity of the paper behind the story...

    If I write a load of rubbish based on a selective range of data that matches a political view held by the BBC does that make it news any more than if it runs contrary

  • rate this

    Comment number 769.

    UCL, the uni that produced this study is heavily dependent on both EU grants and the fees of EU students"

    Why would many students pay £9K a year at UCL when the fees are much lower everywhere else in the EU. The Marie Curie funding for postgrads is nice icing on the cake for UCL, but far outweighed by its other sources of income for "the cake". Hardly a conflict of interest.

  • rate this

    Comment number 768.


    Yes because there's not many jobs in the Lake district. Go to London and see how densely crowded the place is. Some landlords there like cramming 10 to a house that was only designed for a family of 4. And use the sheds as well as accommodation. Will you want to live in those conditions? EU migrants do, but the rest of us want security in our lives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 767.

    Each immigrant to this country gaining a job is one British person unemployed.
    Each British person unemployed is likely to be receiving benefits, training perhaps, etc.
    If the taxes that the employed immigrant pays is greater than the benefits etc. paid to the British person then the 'State' wins.

    If Fred's wife up the road earns more than my wife should I turn my back on my wife. Course not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 766.

    @ 445, they are employed over the british because they have better skill and better work ethic. Its unbelievable that some people want everything handed to them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 765.

    Who benefits from this supposed financial contribution? It's not the unemployed or low paid.
    To gain skills people, especially the young, need access to work. UK has 2.6 million unemployed, with the rate 21% in the 16 - 24 age group. Under these circumstances importing labour is ridiculous. We should work with what we've got.

  • rate this

    Comment number 764.

    The inward-looking, self-regarding, island mentality of the Little Englander is alive & kicking in 2013 I see.

    It's OK for Brits to:
    - colonise/subordinate half the world in the name of Empire
    - have Poles, Czechs, Sikhs fight for Britain in WWII
    - invade countries at will

    but lo:
    - if they come here... Oh the WHINGING!

    What a pitiful, shameful nation of tiny-minded small people we've become.

  • rate this

    Comment number 763.

    Hopefully the report will encourage more people to obtain and read good quality research papers rather than allow themselves to be overly influenced by the output from tabloid trash, controlled and directed by the porn kings, serial hackers and tax evaders who own and run our 'free press'.


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