Danish ‘Welfare Magnet’ Study: Generous Benefits Lure More Migrants


With one of the most generous welfare systems in the world and benefit rates even higher than in the fellow Nordic states, Denmark was seen as an “ideal setting” for studying the “welfare magnet” problem.

Generous social security schemes attract larger migrant crowds,  a study of the Danish system called The Welfare Magnet Hypothesis, which was conducted by Princeton University economists Ole Agersnap, Amalie Jensen and Henrik Kleven has concluded.

The researcher trio studied the effects of welfare generosity on international migration using a series of large changes in welfare benefits for immigrants in Denmark, and concluded that immigrants were more likely to come to Denmark when they could pick up more welfare.

The researchers traced a series of changes in Denmark’s immigration laws and their repercussions. They admittedly saw Denmark as an “ideal setting” for studying this question. Denmark, they argued, has “one of the most generous welfare systems in the world”, with benefit rates “even higher than in fellow Nordic welfare states”.

The first change, implemented in 2002 under the liberal-conservative government of future NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, lowered benefits for immigrants from outside the EU by about 50 percent, with no changes for natives or immigrants from inside the EU. The policy was repealed in 2012 following the election of a centre-left government, and then re-instituted in 2015 after…

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