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  • Project contributors: Giulietti C, Wahba J,

    This Project is linked to the following Strand/s:

    Migration and Mobility

    Overview

    Objectives
    The aim of this project was to review and discuss the major theories and empirical studies about the welfare magnet hypothesis, i.e. whether immigrants are more likely to move to countries with generous welfare systems. While there is a well-established body of literature focusing on the push and pull factors of immigration, such as wage differentials, macroeconomic conditions and social networks, only recently has the topic of “welfare migration” — i.e. whether immigrants are more likely to move to countries with generous welfare systems — generated substantial interest among scholars. This study looked at how the literature has developed and what the major challenges for future research are.

    Methods
    The study provided an overview of welfare and immigration in a selected group of Member States of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and reviewed major theoretical works that model the relationship between welfare and immigration. These studies predict that welfare programs affect the number, composition and location of immigrants. Two strands of the empirical literature on the welfare magnet hypothesis were then surveyed, where studies on whether immigrants are more likely to be welfare users than natives were examined. Studies on whether immigrants choose countries or regions with generous welfare systems were then reviewed.

    Findings
    According to the studies reviewed in the project, it is plausible to conclude that fears about immigrant abuse of welfare systems are somewhat unfounded or at least exaggerated. Overall the empirical evidence on the welfare magnet hypothesis is mixed. However when evidence of a magnet effect is found, the impact tends to be rather small.

    Two potential sources for the conflicting empirical results were found: the endogeneity of welfare and immigration and whether immigration in the country is free or restricted. It is important to note that welfare is one of the many pull factors of immigration. The study suggests that the number and characteristics of immigrants are potentially affected by not only immigration policies — which are meant to directly affect immigration flows — but also by other policies, such as welfare programs. In addition, characteristics of immigrants directly influenced by immigration policies — such as their skill level — are important determinants of immigrants' welfare use.

    How well the two types of policies are integrated will have consequences on the important issues which are at the core of current debate about immigration, such as the sustainability of the welfare systems versus the potential of immigration to alleviate labour shortages and counteract the effects of an ageing population.

    Publications & Activities

    With a Lot of Help from my Friends: Social Networks and Immigrants in the UK
    Population, Space and Place – Special Issue (2013). 19 (6) 651-656
    Authors: Giulietti C, Schluter C, Wahba J,

    Giulietti C, Wahba J, (2013) Chapter 26 - International Handbook on the Economics of Migration
    Edward Elgar, 489-504.

    Welfare migration
    CPC (2012). Series Number: 18.
    Authors: Giulietti C, Wahba J,

    Migrants and Social Networks: Old Ideas, Lasting Myths and New Findings
    DEFI Seminar (2011). (University of Aix-Marseille II, France)
    Authors: Schluter C,

    Free vs. Restricted Immigration: A Bilateral Country Study
    Migration: Economic Change, Social Challenge Conference (2011). (University College London)
    Authors: Razin A, Wahba J,

    Migrants and Social Networks: Old Ideas, Lasting Myths and New Findings
    Migration: Economic Change, Social Challenge Conference (2011). (University College London)
    Authors: Giulietti C, Schluter C, Wahba J,

    Welfare Magnet Hypothesis, Fiscal Burden and Immigration Skill Selectivity
    Seminar (2011). (Cornell University)
    Authors: Wahba J,

    Welfare Magnet Hypothesis, Fiscal Burden and Immigration Skill Selectivity
    Seminar (2011). (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium)
    Authors: Wahba J,

    With a little help from my friends (and relations)
    Britain in 2012 (2011).
    Authors: Giulietti C, Wahba J, Schluter C,

    Welfare Magnet Hypothesis, Fiscal Burden and Immigration Skill Selectivity
    Seminar (2011). (University of Luxembourg)
    Authors: Wahba J,

    Migration Policy and Welfare State in Europe
    (2011). Series Number: Vol 9, No 4.
    Authors: Razin A, Wahba J,

    Free vs. Controlled Migration: Bilateral Country Study
    (2011). Series Number: 16831.
    Authors: Razin A, Wahba J,

    Migrants and Social Networks: Old Ideas, Lasting Myths and New Findings
    The Third International Conference on Migration and Development (2010). (Paris)
    Authors: Wahba J, Giulietti C, Schluter C,

    Social Networks and Migration
    ESRC-CASS Conference on Migration & Labour Markets (2010). (University of St Andrews)
    Authors: Wahba J,

    Migrants and Social Networks: Old Ideas, Lasting Myths and New Findings
    Conference on Migration, Development and Global Issues (2010). (University College London, organised by CReAM, World Bank and Norface Migration Network)
    Authors: Giulietti C, Schluter C, Wahba J,

    Media

    Special Report: Benefit tourism - a modern myth British Influence website. 2013
    Article on http://britishinfluence.org titled "Special Report: Benefit tourism - a modern myth" mentions Jackie Wahba's research on migration.

    With a lot of help from my friends: How do migrants use social networks to access jobs? COMPAS website. 2013
    The COMPAS Blog mentioned Jackie Wahba's Breakfast Briefing: With a lot of help from my friends: How do migrants use social networks to access jobs?

    With a lot of help from my friends: How do migrants use social networks to access jobs? University of Oxford podcast. 2013
    Podcast of Jackie Wahba's COMPAS breakfast briefing titled "With a lot of help from my friends: How do migrants use social networks to access jobs?"

    How immigrants use social networks to find work
    Article in 'Britain in 2012', ESRC's annual magazine: "How immigrants use social networks to find work".