Home Impact of immigration — 4. Welfare Final page (Population)

Impact of immigration


A common complaint is that immigrants move to richer countries to exploit public services. In fact, the vast majority of migrants only want to work as hard as possible.

Studies in the USA in the early 1990s concluded that although immigrants may claim marginally more welfare than natives this is mainly because they are poorer. In fact low-income immigrants are less likely to claim welfare than low-income natives. Even so, the US government tightly restricts immigrants' welfare rights.

The situation is of course different for illegal immigrants since they want to conceal their presence and avoid contact with the authorities. Some calculations suggest that undocumented immigrants are paying five to ten times more in taxes than they are consuming in welfare services.

It has also been argued that too much is being spent on educating immigrant children. This is a strange proposition. Schooling is not a welfare benefit to an individual child but an essential investment in the future of the society. Taking the longer view, the US National Academy of Sciences has concluded that eventually each immigrant, with his or her descendants paying taxes, will make a net positive contribution to the national budget of $80,000.

Research in other countries has confirmed that immigrants more than pay their way. In the UK, for example, the foreign-born population contributes around 10% more government revenue than they take in benefits. An Australian study has also found that immigrants are less likely to be receiving welfare payments than the Australian born.

Income tax clinic for low income families

The Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles provides an income tax clinic for low-income families,
Photo: KRC