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 1082.

    1060.Science Skeptic

    The rest of us have to compete with immigrants that drive wages ever lower.


    Dreadful sloppy thinking...

    You don`t tak into account if the migrants skills complement or substitute existing skillbases..

    Or, that migrants can increse productivity and demand which can be reasonably expected to increase wages..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1081.

    Scandinavians better afford socialism by either sitting on enormous natural resources with which they've funded sovereign wealth funds, & or, they don't engage in costly wars on the scale & regularity that we do.

    Check out:
    "The Scandinavian-Welfare Myth"

    Your point?

    Pure ignorance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1080.

    What about my dad who used to earn £11 an hour was made redundant and two polish workers employed on £7 an hour. OK for them to share a flat then move home rich while my dad is on benifits!!!

  • Comment number 1079.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1078.

    Assume there are at least 650k immigrants claiming benefit of a 2.5m total"

    Assume that all you like but do you have authoritative statistics to back it up?

    The 600K in the EU report was those not in work, not those on benefits. An equivalent number for the "indigenous population" would be of the order 20-25 million: these include children, the retired, non-working mothers/carers etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1077.

    1036.Alaric the Visigoth
    So you accept the UK is being colonised, and ethinc cleansing - to use your own expression -, is going on in the UK, only massacres and mass graves full of natives just hasn't happend yet. Is that it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1076.

    your comment provides the perfect example of why Britain need immigrants.Ignorance&narrowmindedness in abundance.
    at least in every country in west of Europe you can find those and,I can assure you,in every other western country there is the same hatred towards the immigrants

    let me remind you that the healthcare in this country is rated among the worst in the industrialised world

  • Comment number 1075.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1074.

    If you ask me, Dustmann should stick his report in the Dustbinn as it is clearly biased and ignores the fact that the net benefit to the UK economy would be much greater if there were 100% employment, which is practically impossible when more and more people are flowing in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1073.

    Everyone thinks the World Trade Organisation is wonderful. It brings consumers lots of cheap goods to buy. But it also demands ever lower unit labour costs. The UK stock market "short termism" has led to chronic under investment in skills/automation over decades. This has left sucking in cheap labour from abroad as the only means of remaining competitive. We can't have our cake and eat it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1072.

    Once more UKIP has been shown up for their lies. Even The Sun has to retract a story of '600,000' immigrants here as health benefit tourists'. Time to send UKIP and their ilk packing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1071.

    The reality (and I'm living it) is a uk national on £20-30k p.a. gets replaced by his identically qualified eu counterpart who will do the same job for £15-25k p.a. The uk national ends up on benefits and the eu national on their lower salary contributes less tax/NI than the original uk worker was doing. Fantastic plan, that is. Bosses are happy though!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1070.

    1035.Sally the Rothbardian

    Employers don't own this isle, your premise is faulty.
    I'm not talking about this isle, just one case that seems to imply immigration of cheap labour is not always good for local workers. It seems they raise the cost of living, as all now have to work 40hrs for same pay. What have I missed?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1069.

    Being anti-immigration isn't racist, it's parochial, just as Enoch said.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1068.

    These propaganda experts & politicians always argue short term minor benefit points, when the crux is about long term sustainability.

    UK/EU populations were on course to stabilise, not good, because affordability of government pensions promises were/are endemically reliant upon continued growth & enough young/in work people to maintain increasing elderly population.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1067.

    Nick Funnell
    Enlighten me. If I were Indian/Pole/African and you are better at doing your job than me, why would your boss want me instead of you?
    Unless you are saying, being british = guaranteed job in the UK. If you think employing less capable people is the way to go for the UK, then I'm glad you aren't running the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1066.

    Mass immigration has caused a massive jump in the UK population impacting mainly in England. The report ignores negative effects of immigration including pressure on public services, the need to build ever-more housing on green spaces, the impact on communities that have been flooded with immigrants. Why not have a referendum on immigration and see what people actually want?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1065.

    1019. internet opinion analyst for a party that'll see to their repatriation!
    What party would that be?

  • Comment number 1064.

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

  • Comment number 1063.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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