Understanding free movement and migration in the European Union
Free movement and welfare chauvinism
‘Welfare chauvinism’ refers to an attitude wherein citizens of a given country seek to exclude migrants and other non-citizens from gaining access to what citizens perceive to be ‘their’ rights. The attitude might arise from concerns that migrants are a burden on the welfare state, or from ideas about ‘fairness’ and the ‘deservingness’ of those receiving benefits.
Analysis conducted by the REMINDER Project suggests that, across the EU, people support a ‘reciprocity norm’ for regulating migrants’ access to welfare benefits. This refers to the idea that benefits should only be granted to migrants after they have ‘earned their rights’ by working and paying taxes for a certain period. REMINDER research suggests that low degrees of reciprocity in national welfare systems can raise opposition to free movement, especially among economically-vulnerable groups in host communities.