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Welfare Migration

  • Corrado Giulietti


    (IZA - Institute for the Study of Labor)

  • Jackline Wahba


    (University of Southampton and IZA)

This chapter reviews and discusses 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. Although economic theory predicts that welfare generosity affects the number, composition and location of immigrants, the empirical evidence is rather mixed. We offer possible explanations for the existence of such mixed evidence and highlight that the literature so far has overlooked the presence of different migration regimes, as well as the possibility of reverse causality between welfare spending and immigration.

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Paper provided by Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London in its series Norface Discussion Paper Series with number 2012038.

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Date of creation: Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nor:wpaper:2012038
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  1. Borjas, George J, 1999. "Immigration and Welfare Magnets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 607-37, October.
  2. Bruce D. Meyer, 1998. "Do the Poor Move to Receive Higher Welfare Benefits?," JCPR Working Papers 58, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  3. Tito Boeri, 2010. "Immigration to the Land of Redistribution," LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series 05, European Institute, LSE.
  4. Hansen, Jörgen & Löfström, Magnus, 2000. "Immigrant Assimilation And Welfare Participation: Do Immigrants Assimilate Into Or Out Of Welfare?," CEPR Discussion Papers 2430, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Terra McKinnish, 2005. "Importing the Poor: Welfare Magnetism and Cross-Border Welfare Migration," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(1).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Assaf Razin & Jackline Wahba, 2015. "Welfare Magnet Hypothesis, Fiscal Burden, and Immigration Skill Selectivity," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 117(2), pages 369-402, 04.
  9. De Giorgi, Giacomo & Pellizzari, Michele, 2009. "Welfare migration in Europe," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 353-363, August.
  10. Corrado Giulietti & Martin Guzi & Martin Kahanec & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2013. "Unemployment benefits and immigration: evidence from the EU," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 34(1), pages 24-38, January.
  11. Razin, Assaf & Sadka, Efraim & Suwankiri, Benjarong, 2011. "Migration and the Welfare State: Political-Economy Policy Formation," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262016109, December.
  12. Jonah B. Gelbach, 2004. "Migration, the Life Cycle, and State Benefits: How Low Is the Bottom?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1091-1130, October.
  13. George J. Borjas & Stephen J. Trejo, 1990. "Immigrant Participation in the Welfare System," NBER Working Papers 3423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Constant, Amelie F., 2011. "Sizing It Up: Labor Migration Lessons of the EU Enlargement to 27," IZA Discussion Papers 6119, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Mayda, Anna Maria, 2007. "International Migration: A Panel Data Analysis of the Determinants of Bilateral Flows," CEPR Discussion Papers 6289, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Phillip B. Levine & David J. Zimmerman, 1995. "An Empirical Analysis of the Welfare Magnet Debate Using the NLSY," NBER Working Papers 5264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Edward M. Gramlich & Deborah S. Laren, 1984. "Migration and Income Redistribution Responsibilities," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(4), pages 489-511.
  18. Michele Pellizzari, 2013. "The use of welfare by migrants in Italy," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 34(2), pages 155-166, February.
  19. Dolmas, James & Huffman, Gregory W., 1998. "On the political economy of immigration and income redistribution," Working Papers 9804, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  20. McKinnish, Terra, 2007. "Welfare-induced migration at state borders: New evidence from micro-data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 437-450, April.
  21. Kahanec, Martin & Zaiceva, Anzelika & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2009. "Lessons from Migration after EU Enlargement," IZA Discussion Papers 4230, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. Frédéric Docquier & B. Lindsay Lowell & Abdeslam Marfouk, 2009. "A Gendered Assessment of Highly Skilled Emigration," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 35(2), pages 297-321.
  23. Barrett, Alan & McCarthy, Yvonne, 2008. "Immigrants and Welfare Programmes: Exploring the Interactions between Immigrant Characteristics, Immigrant Welfare Dependence and Welfare Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 3494, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. Böheim, René & Mayr, Karin, 2005. "Immigration and Public Spending," IZA Discussion Papers 1834, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  25. Zimmermann, Klaus F. & Kahanec, Martin & Giulietti, Corrado & Guzi, Martin & Barrett, Alan & Maitre, Bertrand, 2012. "Report No. 43: Study on Active Inclusion of Migrants," IZA Research Reports 43, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  26. Enchautegui, Maria E, 1997. "Welfare Payments and Other Economic Determinants of Female Migration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 529-54, July.
  27. Regina T. Riphahn & Monika Sander & Christoph Wunder, 2013. "The welfare use of immigrants and natives in Germany: the case of Turkish immigrants," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 34(1), pages 70-82, January.
  28. George J. Borjas & Lynette Hilton, 1996. "Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant Participation in Means-Tested Entitlement Programs," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 575-604.
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