Welfare participation by immigrants in the UK

Stephen Drinkwater (Department of Economics, Swansea University, Swansea, UK)
Catherine Robinson (Department of Economics, Swansea University, Swansea, UK)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Publication date: 3 May 2013



The purpose of this paper is to examine the welfare participation of immigrant groups in the UK, which has experienced a large growth in its immigrant flows and population levels in recent years, especially following EU enlargement in 2004. The analysis particularly focuses on the types of benefits that immigrants tend to claim, as well as examining differences by area of origin. It also examines the factors that determine social assistance benefit claims, including an investigation of the impact of education, ethnicity and years since migration.


A series of probit regression models are estimated using data from the UK Labour Force Survey collected between 2004 and 2009.


Social welfare claims vary considerably by immigrant group as well as by the type of benefit claimed in the UK. There are also differences by immigrant group in the factors determining social assistance claims.

Research limitations/implications

It is very difficult to generalise on the issue of welfare participation by immigrants in the UK. This is important, given policy changes towards migrants from non‐EU countries and in relation to welfare reforms.


The limited previous work in this area for the UK has tended to analyse all benefit claims made by immigrants as a whole, whereas this analysis splits immigrants into different groups and focuses on the types of benefits that are claimed. This has important implications, particularly given the recent increase in immigration to the UK.



Drinkwater, S. and Robinson, C. (2013), "Welfare participation by immigrants in the UK", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 100-112. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437721311320636

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