Martin Kahanec live on BBC World News: Migrants do not respond to welfare generosity
Published on June 6, 2013
Martin Kahanec contributes to the heated debate on welfare restrictions for migrants in the UK in a live interview on BBC World News on May 31, 2013.
Martin Kahanec contributes to the heated debate on welfare restrictions for migrants in the UK in a live interview on BBC World News on May 31, 2013. Kahanec refuted the idea that migrants tend to go to welfare-generous countries, arguing that by responding to economic variables migrants help to cushion adverse effects of the current economic crisis.
About the Study:
A comprehensive study of 19 European countries over a period from 1993 to 2008 co-authored by Martin Kahanec finds that cross-country differences or within-country changes in unemployment benefit spending (UBS) do not affect migration flows within or to Europe. The study shows that for within EU migration UBS plays no role whatsoever. For migration flows from outside the EU a mild statistical correlation is found, but it is shown to be very small and statistically insignificant if confounding factors and reverse causality are taken into account. “All estimates for immigrants of EU origin indicate that flows within the EU are statistically not related to unemployment benefit generosity,” Kahanec says. “This suggests that the so-called ‚welfare migration‘ debate is misguided and not based on empirical evidence. Immigrants are not shopping for welfare,” he adds.
Other factors like unemployment rates, level of gross domestic product, and existing social contacts in the country of destination have a much stronger effect on the flow of migration than welfare benefits. “In terms of policy, there should be a paradigm shift in this discussion – away from the policing of immigrants and towards a more active facilitation of mobility,” Kahanec concludes.
Read the complete study: Corrado Giulietti, Martin Guzi, Martin Kahanec, and Klaus F. Zimmermann, Unemployment Benefits and Immigration: Evidence from the EU, International Journal of Manpower, 2013, 34 (1/2). IZA DP No. 6075
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