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 1042.

    Doesn't address displacement, not the overriding problem of being an overcrowded Island nation.

    Maybe when the population falls below 20m we can then look at immigration again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1041.

    992. AuntieLeft

    The contempt the left treat us with,


    The Tories treat you with respect? Really? I'll have to switch parties then. Maybe UKIP after all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1040.

    The real issue is not whether immigrants 'contribute' to society or whether they work hard, etc., because the majority probably do. It's the sheer numbers which are overwhelming our infrastructure, schools, housing provision and services - practical issues which our politicians prefer to ignore because they forever run scared of the human rights and race lobbies and the EU. The country is sinking

  • rate this

    Comment number 1039.

    Great headline
    Now cue the laughing policeman song

  • rate this

    Comment number 1038.

    in my oppinion there are 3 major problems created by immagration
    1) low paid imagrants mean UK natives have more compitition for available work.
    2) UK companies can import a skilled worker so are reluctant to take on an apprenticace or trainee
    3) the current high housing prices are because of a housing shortage, imagration is driving population growth, the UK is already overpopulated

  • rate this

    Comment number 1037.

    Hooray.... 1000's of skilled immigrants arrived and are making a contribution.

    Tough luck on british citizens who's companies used to run training schemes to produce skilled workers, but the training schemes were cut as they cost money which in turn led to the manager' share options being worth £5 000 000 instead of £6 000 000..........

  • rate this

    Comment number 1036.

    "Mr Petersons Kitchen Cabinet
    Try expressing your homosexuality or wearing a miniskirt in some areas!"

    You mean like near a building site?

    "We are being colonised!"

    That's debatable. What isn't debatable is that no-one is being ethnically cleansed in any way close to what happened in the Balkans and is going on in many parts of the Middle East and elsewhere now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1035.

    Employers don't own this isle, your premise is faulty.

    An experienced UK worker, who actually speaks English, enjoys a considerable employment advantage over an inexperienced foreigner with poor English. Plus, in a free market, if workers can produce goods cheaper, prices fall, as do the costs of living. Falling prices are good.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1034.

    1026 nicknak
    most of the Scandinavian coutries

  • rate this

    Comment number 1033.

    I'm an immigrant. I came 22 years ago to do a higly skilled and specialized job, learned a new language at age 45, worked, paid my taxes and never took a penny in benefits apart from the pension which I have paid for in advance. I forgot to say, I'm a Brit living in Holland. Immigration works both ways, don't forget.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1032.

    Methods & data used by the xenophobic right wing in the UK are weak. 1 vivid example is the consistent refusal to factor out the contribution of American expats living in Britain. US passport holders, in spite of the NatoBond &so-called "special relationship"(a highly fungible slogan) are lumped in with all non-EUgroups even though many of us represent the creme de la creme of USsociety. Clewless!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1031.

    We've got a real life immigrant, who has been granted discretionary leave to remain & is here legally, being pilloried in the Mail for being a drain on society when he's a trainee professional who can be expected to become a major net contributor to the UK economy when he has completed his studies & finds employment. Don't blame people like him for the effects of Tory attacks on the working poor.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1030.

    stupid statistics can show you anything, they live in multiple occupancy houses, where they can earn less but share bills, i cant do that, time to send them packing

  • rate this

    Comment number 1029.

    Perhaps UCl staff should actually get out more.
    I for one quite frankly view this as liberal left propaganda to justify the continuing invasion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1028.

    Ignore the headline, read the study and draw your own conclusions;
    They could be;
    - Immigrants are better educated
    - Less likely to receive benefits
    - Generate more net revenue for the economy
    Or a mixture of the above!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1027.

    I would propose to the BBC to talk only about football, x-factor and the latest gossip on the Royal family. People are not interested in the truth but only in what is convenient to believe to sleep well at night. which doesn't come as a surprise

  • rate this

    Comment number 1026.

    Can i ask someone who is very pro immigration where they will find a country which provides the following;

    -Social Housing
    -a min wage,humane employment laws
    -free healthcare

    As an englishman i am keen to see the world and would like to enjoy these politically hard earned privileges elsewhere, one option would be nice

  • rate this

    Comment number 1025.

    985.David Horton
    Just now
    This report is a complete nonsense

    If the jobs weren't taken by immigrants, then Britons would do the jobs and pay the taxes. Therefore, immigration has had a massively negative effect on the indigenous Britons workers.

    What is nonsensical is your and others naive idea that the job market is fixed..

    " The lump of labour fallacy "...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1024.

    Prof Dustmann told Today: "It is true that recent immigrants are younger but they are also much better educated."

    That is clearly proof of the failure of our education system over the past 40 years - and that is simply due to the introduction of the Comprehensive Education system by the Socialists and their ridiculous notion that "all must be equal". The world does not work that way!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1023.

    Immagration on a small scale is good - mass immigration is damaging.....some nationalities are an asset to our country others have proved themselves a pain in the neck .....we are to blame for some of it though - if all immigrants were CRB checked at customs.....and we didn't let those in with a criminal record...and we stopped sending Child benefit abroad ..Britain would be a happier place


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