Earned Citizenship: Migrants’ Views on the Welfare State

With free labour migration between countries within the EU, the topic of the welfare state is again high on the political agenda, especially in countries as the UK, but also in The Netherlands. Also academic debates take place on the tensions between welfare states and immigration. Economists tend to worry about the financial consequences of immigration for welfare states. “It’s obvious that you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state,’ Nobel Laureate Friedman once said, a sentence since found in every textbook about migration and the welfare state. The economist Borjas coined the term ‘welfare magnet’: generous welfare provision would attract more immigrants who are more likely to use such provisions. Sociologists worry that ethnic diversity would erode solidarity, as people would not identify enough with each other. When ‘strangers’ enter the welfare state, the financial and social foundations of solidarity are said to crumble.

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