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03 June 2024

The net fiscal position of migrants in Europe: trends and insights

The word 'TransEuroWorkS' in block capitals in three colour parts: green, yellow, and read, against a white background

 

This study by economists from Leiden University in the Netherlands - working as part of the TransEuroWorkS project - measures and compares the net fiscal positions of native-born individuals and migrants (from within and outside the EU) in 15 EU countries from 2007 to 2018.

The study finds that migrants constitute less of a fiscal burden on the budgets of EU countries than is often thought. In many instances they are found to contribute more positively than the native-born population, and in several countries they even make a net contribution to public finances. 

In calculations for the study, certain benefits and allowances - such as those for unemployment, retirement, and housing - were deducted from taxes and contributions paid to the government. The 15 countries examined are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Lower costs for migrants

The study finds that in the majority (8) of the 15 countries examined, third-country national (TCN) migrants from outside the EU are less costly for the government in their country than native citizens. Clear reasons for this are given, including the fact that TCN migrants tend to be younger, do not have children who require allowances, and integrate better. This results in more tax revenue in the long term. The native population, on the other hand, is relatively older and receives more pension benefits, while older migrants receive smaller pensions because they have accumulated less.

Myth debunked

One of the study's authors, economist Giacomo Boffi, stated that the actual costs of immigration have not been much researched, despite their significant role in current social and political debates. This is particularly relevant now, in the context of the 2024 European elections. Boffi added that this study serves to 'debunk the populist myth that migrants are more of a burden on social security and the treasury than the native-born population'. In Belgium, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, and Portugal, for example, the research shows that migrants contribute more to the national budget than they take out.

Economic importance of migrants

The study concludes that from a financial and economic point of view, there does not seem to be a migration crisis, and that 'it would be wise for Europe to consider the economic benefits of migration in its policies'. Migrants play an active role in many European economies, and with the native-born population ageing across the EU their contributions are becoming increasingly important.

Document The Net Fiscal Positition of Migrants in Europe: Trends and Insights
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Details

Authors
Giacomo Boffi, Eduard Suari-Andreu, Olaf van Vliet
Geographic area
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden
Contributor type
Academics and experts
Original source
Posted by
Jaleesa Latupeirissa
Country Coordinator

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