The net fiscal position of migrants in Europe: a decomposition analysis

Giacomo Boffi, Leiden University

Migrants are often accused of exploiting the generosity of European welfare states without paying their fair share. The increased public spending that followed the COVID-19 pandemic has reignited the debate on the impact of immigration on public finances. This study tries to anchor the discussion to empirical data, by investigating the pre-pandemic net fiscal position of natives, EU migrants, and extra-EU migrants in eighteen EU countries. To do so, we employ cross-sectional data from the EU-SILC dataset on contributory and non-contributory benefits and combine them with OECD data on taxes and social security contributions. Results show that EU migrants present the highest take-up rates and mean benefit values for both contributory and non-contributory benefits while being also net fiscal contributors. Extra-EU migrants present instead of the lowest take-up rates and the lowest mean value for contributory benefits while being net fiscal recipients given their higher reliance on non-contributory benefits. The total net fiscal contribution of immigrants is small and accounts for between -1% and +1% of GDP for most countries. Finally, an Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition helps to explain which demographic characteristics determine the different net fiscal positions of the three groups.

About the speaker

Giacomo Boffi is a Ph.D. candidate on Economics and Governance of Migrations jointly appointed by the Department of Economics at Leiden University and Leiden University College. His Ph.D. research is conducted within the inter-disciplinary focus area ‘Citizenship, Migration and Global Transformations’. His Ph.D. research examines whether, how, when, and why immigration affects socio-economic policies (pensions, unemployment, taxes, healthcare), and how that relates to social citizenship. Giacomo Boffi completed a master’s degree in Economic Policy in 2019 at Utrecht University. Prior to that, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Politics & Economics (cum laude) at the University of Milan, Italy.


Date: 15 December 2021

Time: 15:00 - 16:00  CEST