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 1122.

    if you are so against immigration, can Britain give back half of the medals they won at the last olympic games, please?
    I read about Mo Farrah struggling for being an immigrant when arrived in the UK. Now he's one of you, right? easy to blame the immigrants for your own inadequacies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1121.

    shevabk2milan; Yes, legal immigrants. You do realise that it is only legal immigrants that have been included, scince by their very definition, illegal immigrants do not exist in the country, they cannot be a drain on resourses as thay cannot access them. You will find that the biggest drain on resources is the bailing out of banks, MP's expense accounts, their recently increased wage, etc.

  • Comment number 1120.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1119.

    @1081: beneath your silly phrases and dramatic paragraphs there lies a child i think; not ignorant darling, just sick of people like you who think they could run the government better than Dave; makes me think for once that Dave is a blessing compared how you'd see fit.

  • Comment number 1118.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1117.

    This may be true for immigrants as a collective group. The problem is that some do not contribute as much as others and it is due to national or cultural backgrounds.

    We need to be more selective on who we allow in and why. A simple open policy does not work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1116.

    I just wonder if most people know ANYTHING about immigrating to the UK. I'm an immigrant (from an English speaking country) and I can say that I didn't find ANY part of the process easy. It was a lot of paperwork, a whole lot of documentation proving that I could support myself without accessing public funds, and a boat load of money. I'm on my 3rd visa (in 3 years) which has cost about £3000

  • rate this

    Comment number 1115.

    Says it all really but there is no point in trying to convince the anti foreigner lobby anymore than you will convince the anti europe lobby (mostly the same people) that it would be a disaster to leave the E.U.
    Better to be poor, racially pure and independent eh? Next step national Socialism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1114.

    1063. internet opinion analyst
    The UK hides Bangladeshi war criminals and über-corrupt Pakistani politicians, yet conducts relentless nazi-hunts! Anyone else confused?
    So what should we do? Stop hunting nazis?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1113.

    It is bizarre how many people will travel from Poland, Turkey, India and god knows where else to get a job here. In UK we have people turning down jobs becasuse they are in the next town. Then they whinge, Its not fair, there are no jobs.
    Norman Tebbitt was right!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1112.

    To all ivory tower immigration fanatics, Liberal self-loathing switch to screaming default you are a racist if you don't agree with me ! I have to tell you that down on the streets things are not looking good. carry on I am sure you will but things are turning nasty ! do you not watch the news ? of course much is covered up not reported. But boy there will be trouble. you should get out and see.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1111.

    1035.Sally the Rothbardian

    Plus, in a free market, if workers can produce goods cheaper, prices fall, as do the costs of living. Falling prices are good.
    But if some arrive willing to work for less then to keep jobs locals have to work for less, don't they? Thus they have less to spend. Question is, will prices drop to match drop in wages?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1110.

    So, how much do you want to pay a brit with 2 C's at a-level?
    How many brits nursing grads want to work in rural care homes?
    How many brits are doing maths/physics degrees?
    Cheap labour you say, how many cheap labour jobs are left in the UK?
    How much does a cheap labour job pay compare to UK benefit?
    Keep selling the myth, but at the company I work for, most skilled workers are foreign.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1109.

    Sally i was answering someone else's question
    I think you should concentrate on understand the British welfare myth first

  • rate this

    Comment number 1108.

    How dare the BBC allow comments on such a positive report, despite open threats from the Tories the BBC continues to provoke the Tories ire. Watch out now Auntie is in big trouble - expect another Letter from the Tory top guy with 3 names, and the Dept of Media. The Tories had such a laugh with their "Go Home" vans, the BBC is now making a laughing stock of the kind Tories!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1107.

    ..he 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

    Doesn't work like that, lookup NAIRU, Govts deliberately maintain a level of unemployment cos they wrongly believe it keeps inflation low, if immigrants disapeared they'd still keep roughly the same unemployment rate

  • rate this

    Comment number 1106.

    so once u add in the billions we now need to spend each year on internal security i doubt there will be any benefit at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1105.

    Immigration is a civilised way of moving around the world, the reason it is on the rise is globalisation. It is the very reason that is making the world a wonderful and a terrible place at the same time.

    The beautiful thing about it is you show a passport and a visa to move countries, which wasn't the case two hundred years ago. Any problems require smart politicians.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1104.

    With many, many people are put on a lifetime unemployment because jobs are taken by intruders, How do you calculate a lifetime of unemployment? I suppose selecting the evidence for a functioning 'multicultural' state would be expected from the elites., never mind the indigenous population, they can keep on moving over and over, and over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1103.

    This ridiculous and biased study is promoted by the BBC on a day where both the telegraph and Daily Mail run stories proving the exact oppostite. No mention of those studies on the biased BBC of course. Again.


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