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The Immigrant Welfare Effect: Take-Up or Eligibility?

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Author Info

  • Bird, Edward J.

    (affiliation not available)

  • Kayser, Hilke

    (affiliation not available)

  • Frick, Joachim R.

    (DIW Berlin)

  • Wagner, Gert G.

    ()
    (DIW Berlin)

Abstract

Are immigrants on welfare because they are more likely to be eligible or because they are more likely to claim benefits for which they are eligible? The answer is politically important, but because most current research on immigration and welfare is based on data from the U.S., the answer is difficult due to the complexities of the transfer system which make eligibility determinations difficult. In Germany, by contrast, eligibility for the main cash transfer program, Sozialhilfe (Social Assistance), is determined by a comparatively simple nation-wide formula. We use data from the German Socio-Economic Panel to test whether immigrants to Germany are more likely than natives to claim welfare benefits for which they are eligible. We find that immigrants are more likely than native Germans to receive welfare, both because immigrants are more likely to be eligible, and because they are more likely, when eligible, to claim their benefits. However, we also find that this greater propensity to take-up benefits is not related to immigrant status per se: when other socio-demographic factors are accounted for in an appropriate manner, immigrant households are no more likely to take up benefits than native households.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 66.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Oct 1999
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: International Migration Review, 35 (2001), 726-748
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp66

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Keywords: Immigration; social assistance; eligibility; take-up;

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References

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  1. Klaus F. Zimmermann, 1995. "Tackling the European Migration Problems," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 45-62, Spring.
  2. Joachim R. Frick & Timothy M. Smeeding & Gert G. Wagner, 1999. "Immigrants in Two Modern Nations: Characteristics of the Foreign and Native Born Populations in Germany and the United States," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 68(2), pages 297-307.
  3. Michael Baker & Dwayne Benjamin, 1995. "The Receipt of Transfer Payments by Immigrants to Canada," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(4), pages 650-676.
  4. Francine D. Blau, 1984. "The use of transfer payments by immigrants," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(2), pages 222-239, January.
  5. George J. Borjas & Stephen J. Trejo, 1990. "Immigrant Participation in the Welfare System," NBER Working Papers 3423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Zimmermann, Klaus F., 1998. "Immigration und Arbeitsmarkt: Eine oekonomische Perspektive," IZA Discussion Papers 7, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Wei-Yin Hu, 1998. "Elderly Immigrants on Welfare," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(3), pages 711-741.
  8. George J. Borjas & Lynette Hilton, 1995. "Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant Participation in Means- Tested Entitlement Programs," NBER Working Papers 5372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Pawel Kaczmarczyk, 2013. "Are immigrants a burden for the state budget? Review paper," EUI-RSCAS Working Papers p0356, European University Institute (EUI), Robert Schuman Centre of Advanced Studies (RSCAS).
  2. Riphahn, Regina, 1999. "Immigrant Participation in Social Assistance Programs: Evidence from German Guestworkers," CEPR Discussion Papers 2318, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Rob Euwals & Hans Roodenburg & J. Dagevos & M. Gijsberts, 2006. "Immigration, integration and the labour market; Turkish immigrants in Germany and the Netherlands," CPB Discussion Paper 75, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  4. Bauer, Thomas K., 2002. "Migration, Sozialstaat und Zuwanderungspolitik," IZA Discussion Papers 505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Heitmueller, Axel, 2002. "Unemployment Benefits, Risk Aversion, and Migration Incentives," IZA Discussion Papers 610, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Hilke Almut Kayser & Joachim R. Frick, 2000. "Take It or Leave It: (Non-) Take-up Behavior of Social Assistance in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 210, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  7. Muñoz de Bustillo, Rafael & Antón, José-Ignacio, 2009. "Immigration and Social Benefits in a Mediterranean Welfare State: The Case of Spain," MPRA Paper 13849, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Euwals, Rob & Dagevos, Jaco & Gijsberts, Mérove & Roodenburg, Hans, 2007. "Immigration, Integration and the Labour Market: Turkish Immigrants in Germany and the Netherlands," IZA Discussion Papers 2677, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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