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 1102.

    1083 - try comparing Germany's (or anywhere's) population density to England's rather than Britain's.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1101.

    There's plenty of reports that put the other side of the argument too and not wholly focussed on finances but also quality of life. Tax created by mass immigration is spent on the need for more schools,NHS places, infrastructure due to the ever growing populace. I think that brief summary sounds and looks, to the vast majority of people, a more realistic picture of the post 2000 immigration boom..

  • rate this

    Comment number 1100.

    The report is rubbish. Immigrants who want to work here are wlcome, those who dont arent.

    Amnd remember it was LABOUR that wanted mass immigration. They stabbed their own supporters in the back with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1099.

    I moved to UK in 1997 from south Asia, worked in Burger King, Barclays, British Gas & BT before moving into current field, where I am working for last 12 years. I have represented UK at international conferences both within and beyond EU. My contribution also include promotion of UK exports. I am able to contribute positively because (by enlarge) UK respects me for what I am.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1098.

    I dont believe your contrived information Prof Dustmann, your being paid to be positive.
    I Remember past "honest guvs " Blair and Brown (Money can lead to lies)

    I prefer to listen to the honesty of Sir Andrew Green and his more truefull analysis. Some thing needs to be curtailed and very quickly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1097.

    " Why not have a referendum on immigration and see what people actually want?"

    Because politicians know the answer already. But our cosy 3-party centre-left political elite no longer cares what people actually want. We get what we're given because we have no real choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1096.

    Most of the Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants due to be allowed in the country after the 1st Jan 2014 are already here and this Government are in cahoots with it.
    They keep telling us of the blessings they bring to this country well we are especially blessed were I live. Politicians should not let others have all the blessings, and selfishly take some blessings nearer their own homes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1095.

    947 what a ridiculously racist view you have on the world. How the moderators have allowed your comment to appear is beyond me...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1094.

    1058 MrC

    'The immigrants are young and usually the sharpest pencils in the box. The key question is why service sector workers in SE are mostly from Poland not North of England.'

    Your second sentence is explained by your first. The very fact they're still living in the North East surrounded by tundra and Labour voters marks them out as not the sharpest pencil in the box.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1093.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1092.

    No1035 Sally,

    ' if workers produce goods cheaper prices fall'

    Sally, you normally make some interesting comments, but the above is the most stupid to date.

    The laws of supply and demand only operate successfully in a 'perfect market' - is a perfect market a Rothbardian fantasy?

    Where do these perfect markets operate?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1091.

    1064 "Your spelling mistake are appalling" - er... what? "Sebastian-Fettles-Teacher" - ooooh, makes sense now. How's that 13 weeks off a year, gold plated pension, days off with stress, baker days, "quick let's strike" to protect our guaranteed pay rises life style working out? Still desperately fighting against accountability and streaming?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1090.

    1047 Galaxy
    Spot on!
    It was the Irish who build the canals, railways, motorways and tube system.
    Too many native Britons couldn't work to keep warm.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1089.

    1067. Cheddy - An employer would want you because you would most likely be cheaper. You would be more malleable because of your economic vulnerability. You would be less likely to stand up for your rights because your standards would be naturally lower than a Brit. But would you be more productive if the playing field were level? Probably not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1088.

    They can't control immigrantion so now they are trying to convince us its a good thing.
    What about taking our jobs and driving down wages ?
    Taking our houses and driving up rents ?
    Bringing terrorism, crime, overcrowding etc to our already full island ?
    The destruction of whole communities and our culture.
    First it was hug a hoodie and now we have love an immigrant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1087.

    It is quite obvious from the Labour supporters who frequent these pages, that they have a complete disregard for the problems faced by under privileged and disadvantaged members of the indigenous population of this nation. How dare they and their middle class elitists attack young British citizens who want work, but cannot find it due to jobs being handed to East Europeans flooding the nation?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1086.

    #1038 terry: Your spelling mistake are appalling.

    Oh the irony :-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 1085.

    There are jobs out there but there are immigrants (legal and illegal) and British people who are too lazy to look for or find work, stop benefits and handouts to them ALL. £500 a week cap on benefits, OMG i wish i earnt £500 per week.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1084.

    Given that the government has no clear idea of exactly how many immigrants have arrived in the UK for a couple of decades, where exactly and how, did the UCL get the data from, ?

    Can we believe any of it unless we accept that the university knows more than the government ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1083.

    10. Robbie
    The big picture needs to account ...accommodation where prices are forced up due to huge demand.

    How about the even bigger picture that most of W. Europe has more immigrants per head than UK (Please check it out) yet their accomodation costs are way less than ours. And, eg. Germany's pop. p.sq. mile is about the same as ours. Our press tells us porkies; not just on immigration..


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