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Migration and social protection in European welfare states: Cui bono?
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0728-693X
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Whether and under what conditions foreigners should be granted access to welfare benefits has been debated for as long as public welfare systems have existed. In contrast, research on the actual social protection of immigrants is still comparatively scarce in the welfare state literature. The dissertation contributes to an emerging body of research which addresses this ‘migrant gap’. It does so by introducing a new analytical lens. Rather than studying how immigrants gain access to formal social rights upon entry, it investigates how actual social benefits are distributed in relation to migrant-specific characteristics such as country of birth and length of residency. This perspective helps uncover how general welfare conditionalities – such as work-, membership and conduct-testing – affect the distribution of social protection in relation to cross-border migration without targeting the formal rights of immigrants specifically.

In its examination of the relationship between welfare conditionality, migration and social protection, this thesis focuses on the provision of unemployment benefits in Western Europe welfare states in particular. Three independent empirical studies are conducted, using statistical analyses with administrative data. Their findings indicate that general work-related welfare conditionalities produce large gaps in benefit receipt between immigrants and native-born residents, particularly in countries that have so far been portrayed as comparatively inclusive in the welfare state literature. For disciplinary measures such as benefit sanctions, in contrast, immigrants are found to be less negatively affected. As a whole then, the dissertation demonstrates that the social protection of immigrants turns out to be much more complex as soon as we study the actual distribution of benefits inside and across countries with established welfare systems.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2021. , p. 33
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 190
Keywords [en]
welfare states, migration, integration, social protection, social policy, political economy, Europe, street-level bureaucracy, Ghent systems, unemployment insurance, social assistance, welfare conditionality
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-445072ISBN: 978-91-513-1240-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-445072DiVA, id: diva2:1570448
Public defence
2021-09-10, Brusewitzsalen, Östra Ågatan 19, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2021-07-12 Created: 2021-06-21 Last updated: 2021-08-25Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Generous to workers ≠ Generous to all: Implications of European unemployment benefit systems for the social protection of immigrants
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Generous to workers ≠ Generous to all: Implications of European unemployment benefit systems for the social protection of immigrants
2021 (English)In: Comparative Political Studies, ISSN 0010-4140, E-ISSN 1552-3829, Vol. 54, no 9, p. 1629-1652Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Record-high levels of international migration both toward and across Europe have recently given rise to a new body of research on the social protection of immigrants. A recurring argument in this literature maintains that migrants are generally more likely to gain access to social benefits in generous welfare states. The article offers a critical review of this hypothesis with a focus on unemployment benefit provision. The tides of European welfare politics have produced a set of systems in the past which are today highly stratified on the basis of employment. This mechanism generates a considerable benefit gap in reference to migration, especially for those who arrived to their country of residency only recently. Empirical analyses with micro-level data for 14 Western European countries provide supporting evidence for this argument. The findings indicate a negative relationship between generosity and social protection which has not been accounted for in previous research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2021
Keywords
political economy, social welfare programs, migration, European politics
National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-445069 (URN)10.1177/0010414021997160 (DOI)000627082300001 ()
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2018-04898
Available from: 2021-06-10 Created: 2021-06-10 Last updated: 2024-01-15Bibliographically approved
2. When free choice turns into a pitfall: conditional social protection for immigrants in voluntary unemployment insurance systems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>When free choice turns into a pitfall: conditional social protection for immigrants in voluntary unemployment insurance systems
2021 (English)In: Journal of European Social Policy, ISSN 0958-9287, E-ISSN 1461-7269, Vol. 31, no 1, p. 3-14Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Unemployment insurance systems are designed to provide income security for those who drop out of work temporarily. This form of social protection is particularly relevant for foreign-born workers who are, on average, more likely to become unemployed during layoffs. The article explores how the social protection of immigrants differs in cases where payments are tied to voluntary rather than mandatory contributions. This is done by focusing on a recent welfare reform in Sweden which led to both a sharp increase in costs and a decline in benefit generosity overnight. It is argued that migrants lost their social protection at a disproportionate rate over the course of the reform. Both their status on the labour market and position as newcomers to the norms and rules of society are expected to impede on their decision to obtain or prolong insurance membership, leading to a decline in eligibility to income security. Difference-in-difference estimates with administrative data from all unemployment insurance funds show that the share of benefit recipients with earnings-related payments decreased at a higher rate among the foreign-born as expected, especially if they had arrived in the country only recently.

Keywords
unemployment insurance, immigrants, Ghent systems, welfare reform
National Category
Public Administration Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-433355 (URN)10.1177/0958928720973912 (DOI)000609104400001 ()
Available from: 2021-01-28 Created: 2021-01-28 Last updated: 2022-07-20Bibliographically approved
3. How does migration background affect the risk of welfare sanctions? Evidence from a linkage between survey and register data
Open this publication in new window or tab >>How does migration background affect the risk of welfare sanctions? Evidence from a linkage between survey and register data
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Payment cuts, or ‘sanctions’, are used in many welfare systems as a means of disciplining recipients whose compliance with the rules of benefit provision is deemed insufficient. Prior research with help of interviews and survey experiments suggests that risks of discrimination and stereotyping are prevalent in this context, leading to a particularly high sanction probability among recipients who were born outside their country of residency. This study contributes to the literature by shifting the analytical focus from the abstract reasoning of case managers about hypothetical decisions to the actual implementation of payment cuts on the ground in local welfare offices. It does so empirically with help of a record linkage between survey and register data for the case of job search requirements in the German social assistance system. The results indicate that benefit recipients tend to have a lower sanction risk if they were born abroad, especially if they have arrived in Germany only recently in search of international protection. These findings point to a more complex relationship between immigration and sanction risk than has been previously suggested. They support the contention that a person’s migration background can also act as a mitigating factor for the probability of a payment cut in the context of welfare governance.

National Category
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-445071 (URN)
Available from: 2021-06-10 Created: 2021-06-10 Last updated: 2021-06-29

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