Jobless immigrants prefer home sweet home
Fears about immigrants include the suspicion that they are 'scroungers living off benefits' – but contrary to popular belief, jobless immigrants are likely to leave quickly if they are out of work. A study of labour immigration in the Netherlands finds that rather than adding to the host state’s social welfare bill, unemployed labour migrants opt to return to their home country.
Findings from the ESRC Research Centre for Population Change showed that across all immigrant groups, unemployment shortens the migration period and leads to return migration. Moreover, the longer the migrants are unemployed the higher the chance they leave - and vice versa, the longer they are re-employed the less likely they are to leave.
The study examined all labour immigrants to the Netherlands over the period 1999- 2007, in all more than 94,000 people. The biggest labour immigrant group turned out to be from the UK, comprising 13 per cent of the labour migrants. Only 18 per cent came from developing countries.
These findings challenge the perception that labour immigrants in the Netherlands are attracted by the generosity of the welfare state, since almost half of recent labour immigrants leave if they experience unemployment. In terms of policy, this suggests that voluntary return schemes might be more successful if they target recent immigrants, as opposed to long established ones.