International Economics and Economic Policy

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 491–519 | Cite as

Are immigrants really attracted to the welfare state? Evidence from OECD countries

  • Aaron L. Jackson
  • David L. Ortmeyer
  • Michael A. Quinn
Original Paper


This paper examines the impact of fiscal policies on both the size and educational levels of immigrants in destination countries. We find that whether or not a country’s policies are attracting highly educated immigrants goes beyond the issue of the “welfare state”. Immigrants are making important distinctions between the different benefits provided by a receiving country’s government. Health and education spending are found to have a positive impact on the education levels of immigrants while the reverse is true for unemployment and retirement benefits. Welfare programs are found to be insignificant once other government programs/taxes and other factors are taken into account. These results imply that countries should be less concerned about whether they are a “big government” with regards to attracting immigrants, and more concerned with what types of benefits they offer.


Migration European union Fiscal Welfare 

JEL codes

J1 J6 F2 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron L. Jackson
    • 1
  • David L. Ortmeyer
    • 1
  • Michael A. Quinn
    • 1
  1. 1.EconomicsBentley UniversityWalthamUSA

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