Understanding free movement and migration in the European Union
Access to welfare plays a minor role in decisions to migrate
While media stories and public concerns about migration can often focus on the ‘welfare frame’, REMINDER analysis highlighted that access to public services and the welfare system is rarely a determining factor for intra-EU migrants. However, the team did find it may be more important for some non-EU migrants seeking asylum.
The researchers found little evidence of intra-EU movement undertaken with the intention of taking advantage of the welfare system of the host country — known as welfare or benefits ‘tourism’. However, upon arriving in the host country, EU migrants do learn about their rights and many claim such benefits. Importantly, the researchers also found that welfare did play a role in migrants’ decisions to return to their countries of origin — particularly welfare provision for the elderly. Those moving to seek asylum tend to put more emphasis on differences in access to public services and welfare across EU countries, particularly access to services providing education and care for children.