IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Unproductive immigrants: A socially optimal policy for rational egalitarians


  • Nannestad, Peter


Large parts of the population of third-world immigrants to rich countries have not been successfully integrated into domestic labor markets and so are not productively employed. A potential "immigration surplus" has therefore not been realized. These circumstances have been explained with reference to irrational behavior by natives (acting out of racism) and/or malevolent motives of either natives or immigrants, or both. In this paper, I propose an explanation for labor-market exclusion of immigrants as the optimal outcome of objectives of rational egalitarianism: that is, all people are rational and behave solely in accord with ethical socially irreproachable motives. The explanation fits the stylized facts of the Danish case. The predictions are also consistent with observed inter-country differences in labor-market exclusion of immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Nannestad, Peter, 2009. "Unproductive immigrants: A socially optimal policy for rational egalitarians," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 562-566, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:25:y:2009:i:4:p:562-566

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Epstein, Gil S & Hillman, Arye L., 2000. "Social Harmony At The Boundaries Of The Welfare State: Immigrants And Social Transfers," CEPR Discussion Papers 2414, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Altruism, the Samaritan's Dilemma, and Government Transfer Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 46-57, March.
    3. Lindbeck, Assar & Snower, Dennis J., 2002. "The Insider-Outsider Theory: A Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 534, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Borooah, Vani K. & Mangan, John, 2007. "Living here, born there: The economic life of Australia's immigrants," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 486-511, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Azarnert, Leonid V., 2010. "Immigration, fertility, and human capital: A model of economic decline of the West," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 431-440, December.
    2. Gaston, Noel & Rajaguru, Gulasekaran, 2013. "International migration and the welfare state revisited," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 90-101.
    3. Bergh, Andreas, 2014. "Explaining Cross-Country Differences in Labor Market Gaps between Immigrants and Natives in the OECD," Working Paper Series 1036, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    4. Naiditch, Claire & Vranceanu, Radu, 2010. "Equilibrium migration with invested remittances: The EECA evidence," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 454-474, December.
    5. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:25:y:2009:i:4:p:562-566. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.