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Unemployment benefits and immigration: evidence from the EU

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Author Info

  • Corrado Giulietti
  • Martin Guzi
  • Martin Kahanec
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann

Abstract

Purpose – Economic theory predicts that unemployment benefits may increase expected income and reduce its volatility, thereby attracting immigrants to countries which implement such programs. This article aims to explore whether and how changes in countries’ unemployment benefit spending (UBS) affect immigration. Design/methodology/approach – Data are collected for 19 European countries over the period 1993-2008. The relationship between immigration flows and UBS is first tested using the OLS technique. Instrumental variable (IV) and generalised method of moments (GMM) are then used to address reverse causality. Findings – While the OLS estimates suggest the existence of a moderate within-country welfare magnet effect for the inflows of non-EU immigrants, the IV approach reveals that the impact is substantially smaller and statistically insignificant when GMM techniques are implemented. Research limitations/implications – Since information on the immigrants’ country of origin is not available, it is not possible to exclude that for immigrants coming from certain areas, unemployment benefits constitute a strong incentive to immigrate. This hypothesis awaits further research, once detailed data is available. Originality/value – This paper complements previous literature on immigration and welfare by exploring the endogenous nature of welfare spending. The empirical results provide insights into the interaction between immigration and welfare policies.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal International Journal of Manpower.

Volume (Year): 34 (2013)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 24-38

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Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:34:y:2013:i:1:p:24-38

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Related research

Keywords: Benefits; Europe; European Union; Immigration; Unemployment benefit spending; Welfare magnets;

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References

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  1. Roberto Perotti & Massimo V. Rostagno & Gian-Maria Milesi-Ferretti, 2001. "Electoral System and Public Spending," IMF Working Papers 01/22, International Monetary Fund.
  2. De Giorgi, Giacomo & Pellizzari, Michele, 2009. "Welfare migration in Europe," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 353-363, August.
  3. Alon Cohen & Assaf Razin & Efraim Sadka, 2009. "The Skill Composition of Migration and the Generosity of the Welfare State," NBER Working Papers 14738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Heitmueller, Axel, 2002. "Unemployment Benefits, Risk Aversion, and Migration Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 610, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Alan Barrett & Bertrand Maître, 2013. "Immigrant welfare receipt across Europe," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 34(1), pages 8-23, January.
  6. George J. Borjas, 1998. "Immigration and Welfare Magnets," NBER Working Papers 6813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lubomira Anastassova & Teodora Paligorova, 2005. "Why Immigrants Manage to Grab More SocialBenefits? Empirical Cross - Country Analysis," CERGE-EI Working Papers wp263, The Center for Economic Research and Graduate Education - Economic Institute, Prague.
  8. Razin, Assaf & Sadka, Efraim & Swagel, Phillip, 2002. "Tax burden and migration: a political economy theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 167-190, August.
  9. Pedersen, Peder J. & Pytlikova, Mariola & Smith, Nina, 2008. "Selection and network effects--Migration flows into OECD countries 1990-2000," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(7), pages 1160-1186, October.
  10. Nannestad, Peter, 2007. "Immigration and welfare states: A survey of 15 years of research," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 512-532, June.
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