A new report adds to the evidence about the economic benefits of immigration, but will it change anything?by Josh Lowe / November 5, 2014 / Leave a comment
Immigrants! They come over here, claiming our benefits, living in our social housing and taking advantage of the good-hearted British taxpayer, right?
Apparently not, according to a new report published in The Economics Journal today. UCL Academics Professor Christian Dustmann and Dr Tommaso Frattini have calculated that immigrants from the EU are less likely to claim benefits and on average contribute more to the UK economy than native Brits. As Dustmann put it at a press conference yesterday: “these guys pay more in than they take out.”
So what are the findings, and will they change anything? We run through the key points below.
What did Dustmann and Frattini find?
This report is a rebuttal of the myth that EU immigrants come here to claim benefits and avoid work. EU immigrants, the report says, were between 2000 and 2011 16.5-24 per cent less likely than native Brits to claim some sort of benefits. EU immigrants are a net economic benefit to the UK, the study finds, and that goes not only for immigrants from the wealthier Western nations of the EU, but also for the so-called “A10 countries”—those which joined in 2004 like Poland (which historically have caused some political controversy), plus Malta and Cyprus. Over the period 2000-2011, the contribution to the economy of A10 immigrants was £5bn and of other EU migrants was £15bn. That contrasts with the negative contribution of British natives—to the tune of -£617bn. Dustmann also yesterday highlighted that Britain is unusual in benefitting so much from immigration—A10 immigrants to Germany, for example, are less well educated and less likely to be of working age than their counterparts who upped sticks to Britain, he said.
Why does this stuff matter?
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Dustmann bemoaned the “very strong, anecdotally based debate” on immigration within British politics: “I have [never] seen a research report coming out of Downing st,” he added. That’s putting it mildly. Since the rise of Ukip, Conservative politicians have scrambled over…