Migration and the welfare state: migration models, fiscal effects, acceptance, and institutional adaptability

Nachwuchsgruppe gefördert durch das Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales (Fördernetzwerk Interdisziplinäre Sozialpolitikforschung)

Migration poses major challenges to welfare states in Germany and Europe. On the one hand, migration offers a great opportunity to mitigate the costs of demographic change for the welfare state and thus to defuse distributional conflicts. On the other hand,  for example due to imperfect integration of migrants into the labor market, migration can also increase welfare costs. In addition, welfare state regulations themselves might influence the scope and structure of migration and thus its impact on the economy and public finances. After all, the acceptance of migration depends largely on welfare transfers to immigrants. However, a comprehensive analysis of the interaction between migration and the capacity of modern welfare states is still lacking.

Against this background, the research project seeks to answer the following questions: (1) What effects does migration have on the fiscal balance of the welfare state, under various assumptions about the scope and structure of migration and welfare state regulations? To answer this question, existing theoretical foundations will be further developed and new data sets such as the IAB-SOEP migration sample and the IAB-BAMF-SOEP survey of refugees will be used. Gender aspects are given special consideration. (2) How do different welfare state regulations affect the scope and structure of migration? This question will be answered with a new generation of gravitational models that consider network effects. (3) What are the consequences of the contributions of migrants to the fiscal balance of the welfare state and welfare transfers to immigrants for the acceptance and legitimacy of migration? To answer this question not only socio-scientific and political-economic models, but also new behavior-theoretical approaches will be used. (4) How adaptable are different welfare state and migration regimes in terms of migration? In order to investigate this question, performance and incentive systems should be compared internationally and integration analyzed taking into account social capital effects.

The project is interdisciplinary and combines approaches from the fields of public finance, comparative social state research, empirical migration research and behavioral approaches. Gender aspects are given special consideration.

Project team:

Dr. Tim Müller (Junior Research Group Leader)

Hend Shehata

Thore Hagemann

Seán King

Christina Biel

Florian Feick


07/2019 - 06/2022


Prof. Dr. Herbert Brücker

Prof. Dr. Herbert Brücker

Director, Head of the Department "Economic Migration and Integration research"

Fon: +49 (0)30 2093-46255

Dr. Tim Müller

Dr. Tim Müller

Junior Research Group Leader (assistant professor level)

Fon: +49 (0)30 2093-46264

MPP Thore Hagemann

MPP Thore Hagemann

Research Fellow "Migration and the welfare state: migration models, fiscal effects, acceptance, and institutional adaptability"

Fon: +49 (0) 30 209370235