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Lecture | Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminar (LIMS)

Solidarity under strain: An update on a legal, criminological and economic analysis of welfare states and free movement in the EU

Tuesday 29 October 2019
Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars 2019-2020
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

LIMS talk by Olaf van Vliet (Economics/Law), entitled ‘Solidarity under strain: An update on a legal, criminological and economic analysis of welfare states and free movement in the EU’. 

This project analyses the extent to which EU labour migration is compatible with the generosity of EU welfare states. A key reason why this question remains unanswered is because the lack of indicators on EU labour migration makes the relationship difficult to study. This study expands upon previous literature by creating new indicators for intra-EU labour migration and thus fill the research gap. Moreover, we include refugees in our analysis in order to compare the effects of EU labour migrants with an alternative migration type that can be expected to yield different economic, societal, and political impacts. For the welfare state, we disaggregate social welfare effort into separate subdomains allowing us to capture specific programme-related changes across countries. Moreover, we complement spending data with two replacement rates, unemployment from the OECD and original data on social assistance. Our results show that EU labour migration, in particular Central and Eastern European labour migration, is positively associated with several subdomains of social welfare effort, as well as for the unemployment and social assistance replacement rates. Whereas for refugees, this association is more complicated – the results depend on the welfare programme studied and are thus shaped by competing mechanisms. In light of EU expansion, however, we find evidence in favour of the compensation hypothesis and conclude that European welfare states are surprisingly resilient in the face of increasing intra-EU immigration.


The Leiden Interdisciplinary Migration Seminars (LIMS) aim at fostering further discussion across disciplines on migration-related topics and creating an open dialogue between the speakers and the attendees. The seminars are a platform for those at Leiden University working on migration-related topics.

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