Immigration and the Social Welfare State in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland: A comparative meta-study

Sabine Weiß, Wanda Spahl, Judith Kohlenberger, Isabella Buber-Ennser

    Publication: Working/Discussion PaperWorking Paper/Preprint


    This meta-study investigates recent research on the effects of immigration on the welfare state in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Due to the 2015 arrival of high numbers of refugees into Europe, the focus is on studies about asylum seekers, recognized refugees and, more generally, on forced migrants. In total, twenty recently published studies are scrutinized in a scoping review. Thereby, fiscal and macroeconomic consequences as well as the integration potential in the labour market are key topics. The studies included in the current meta-analysis yield diverse results and often do not find clear positive or negative effects, but present a variety of scenarios with differing assumptions. Our findings highlight several research gaps. First, existence as well as access to relevant data is scarce, especially at the individual level. Moreover, the funding situation for studies in the field deserves closer attention. Given the timeframe, there is a paucity of longitudinal data. Second, the majority of studies fail to clearly distinguish between different groups of migrants. Third, various recent studies have been commissioned by public or private sponsors and have not undergone scientific peer review. Moreover, a lack of self-reflexivity about possible limitations can be observed. Regarding future routes for research, two findings can be highlighted. First, nearly all studies stress the importance of human capital as a key factor for successful labour market integration. This includes educational levels as well as professional qualifications. The use of this human capital in the host country’s labour market depends crucially on policy efforts. Second, results vary substantially by nationality, legal status, gender and other characteristics of immigrants.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

    • 504006 Demography
    • 504021 Migration research
    • Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital

      Lutz, W. (PI - Project head), Bordone, V. (Researcher), Durham, R. E. (Researcher), Fuchs, R. (Researcher), Guimaraes Rodrigues, C. (Researcher), Loichinger, E. (Researcher), Raggl, A. (Researcher), Sauer, P. (Researcher) & Striessnig, E. (Researcher)


      Project: Research funding

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