Myth of EU “welfare tourists” dispelled in new report

Since 2002, EU migrants have contributed far more in taxes than they have withdrawn in welfare – In 2013, each EU migrant generated a 21,205 kroner a surplus

“We cannot have a grasshopper model, where some grasshoppers – in this case the Eastern Europeans – jump into the field, suck all energy out of it and them jump on to the next field.”

So said MP Brian Mikkelsen from the Conservative People’s Party (Konservative) in July 2013. The comment followed research showed that the number of EU migrants receiving Danish children benefits had doubled over the previous four years.

Back then the numbers sparked a tense debate about the so-called “benefit tourists” – immigrants who came to Denmark for the sole purpose of receiving welfare.

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But new research suggests that EU migrant workers generate a surplus for the Danish state – and always have. According to The Danish National Centre for Social Research (SFI), since 2002 EU migrants have generated a net surplus for the state, meaning that their tax payments overwhelm what they have withdrawn through education, health and so on.

In 2015, the most recent year where numbers are available, European workers each contributed 21,205 kroner each to state finances.

“ EU immigrants made a significant positive net contribution to the Danish welfare state,” state SFI. “Not only have EU citizens paid their way through the welfare system. They have also made a considerable contribution to its fiscal sustainability.”

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Despite their positive contribution to the Danish economy, labour minister Troels Lund Poulsen of the Liberal Party (Venstre), still believes it is necessary to limit other EU nationals’ access to Danish welfare benefits.

“I don’t believe we should erode the Danish welfare model so Danish welfare benefits will be handed out to anyone who comes here and work an very lenient basis. There must be a difference,” he told Politiken newspaper.




By Jon David Finsen

Born and raised in Copenhagen, Jon holds an M.A. in journalism from Aarhus University.

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