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 922.

    This report is a prime example of how statistics can be bent. For example the figures for the number of graduates take no account of age profiles.
    No account is taken of the number of people who can't get jobs because they are taken by immigrants often willing to accept low wages. This biases the benefits situation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 921.

    @907 SALLY; WHERE EXACTLY DID I POINT THE FINGER AT IMMIGRANTS? i'm well aware who's to blame and by the way......savings???? pah umm cost of living aint cheap darling

  • rate this

    Comment number 920.

    UCL is heavily dependent on EU grants and EU student fees"

    No it isn't. The proportion of its EU students has declined in recent years (probably due to very high fees).

    the costs for healthcare and schools the state pays for, is this taken into account when they do their calculations?"

    "867. BLACK_PEARL 876. Steve"

    Why don't you all read the report and find out?

  • rate this

    Comment number 919.

    The worrying factor with immigration is the damaging effect it is having on our culture. We have 'terrorists' running around, hundreds of thousands of illegals but nobody ever asks 'how did we let them in in the first place'? Back from Somalia on a training trip? No problem; just wear this tag! Want flying lessons; no problem - we'll happily pay! We have become a pathetic and gutless country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 918.

    The reason so many British Companies are taking on EU immigrants is because they're too selfish and profit minded to train young British youths to the working standards required, add to this our Governments failure to educate our kids to the highest standards and we have a no win scenario. Education is also the parent responsibility but how can you educate when you both work 24/7 to pay the bills.

  • rate this

    Comment number 917.

    882 - what other countries do with their immigrants - British or otherwise - is their business and has no bearing on what is best for us

    Also, the USA is not doing well. The borders have been opened there too and the historic NW European majority is being squeezed out. The economy is failing, but that's a small price to pay for 'diversity' (and I think we all know what that word really means).

  • Comment number 916.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 915.

    Bad day for the Beeb today, there ridiculously transparent marketing attempt for their mate Dustmann's hopelessly biased "report" has utterly failed and now the completely fair benefit cap has been found completely fair (at watch huge cost you wonder, sigh). £500 a week for getting pregnant, not bad and yet still not enough for the Beeb. Can't wait for the licence tax to end.

  • rate this

    Comment number 914.

    For a normal local/office job, a brit will need, good cv/qualification and interview skills.
    For the same job, an immigrant will need
    1. to speak English well enough.
    2. understand the nature of the work and the society.

    being able to speak English well is such a boost in the modern world and our kids are still beaten in interviews.
    Blaming youth unemployment on immigration is just lazy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 913.

    877.Alaric the Visigoth
    "refraining from expressing any opinions "
    "What they did pass on was a genuine concern for tolerance & the rights of others " Truly, truly priceless, you couldn't make it up if you tried. I guess what you mean is tolerant to anyone who shares your opinions who you can't belittle

  • rate this

    Comment number 912.

    842. Annie-Lou

    All those who claim they want these jobs can apply to my (English) hubby, managing a business in London. He cannot find any British person under 40 willing to work full time. Prefers to have a nice hard-working Pole!!

    I will tell my son to pass this on to his comrades in arms who are ALL under 30 getting shot at,blown up and mentally screwed.

    Keep reading the Daily Mail!

  • Comment number 911.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 910.

    "The real issue for the future is the very large numbers of low-paid immigrants from eastern Europe”

    Sir Andrew Green, Migration Watch


    Anyone else nauseated by the fact, that these peddlars of distortion so often seem to get knighthoods in the UK?

    The populations of Romania and Bulgaria are too small to send "very large numbers".

  • Comment number 909.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 908.

    This now mainly about culture and capacity. Walk around London and see first hand the mistake that is mass immigration. Try booking a doctors appointment or see how foreign children there are in your children's school competing for the teachers attention. We need highly skilled immigrants only and the rest should be barred from entering the UK. This madness has gone on too long.

  • rate this

    Comment number 907.

    "sick of UK people getting pushed backwards to welcome immigrants"
    How does someone coming to the UK to pursue a life of happiness harm you, as long as they don't take from you and stand on their own 2 feet?

    If you're upset about them being given your wages, don't blame them, blame the thieving government's welfare state taking your wages.

    Where are your father's savings?

  • rate this

    Comment number 906.

    Yes, I agree that, at one level, immigrants make a net contribution - but that's only looking at the immigrants themselves.

    If an immigrant takes a job which a local person could have taken, then you also have to consider the loss to the economy of that unemployed local person, and I'm not sure the above report has taken that into account at all, so it seems flawed to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 905.

    The report is irrelevant.

    The simple facts are.
    • No one living was asked how we felt, immigration has been inflicted upon us.
    • For many people born in this country it is now like alien landscape.
    • No matter how positive immigration is, no one want it.
    • The majority are now anti-immigration and no report is going to change that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 904.

    Yeah. Bloody Angles, Jutes, Scots, Norwegians, Huguenots, Jews, Jamaicans, Saxons, Normans, Irish, Romans, Indians, Pakistanis, Dutch etc etc ruining our heritage of living in caves and throwing pointed sticks at each other. Go home, the lot of you. What have you ever given Britain, but innovation, ideas, nice food and an identity we are all proud of?

  • rate this

    Comment number 903.

    The greatest immigrant immigrant influx Britain has ever had was in the late 17th century because of this one in four of us has French Huguenot ancestry. This was less than 100 years before the Industrial Revolution made this country the powerhouse of the world.
    If someone looks for negatives they'll find it but, possibly that says more about what the person is looking for than what they'll find.


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