Race, Ethnicity and Welfare States

Race, Ethnicity and Welfare States

An American Dilemma?

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Pauli Kettunen, Sonya Michel and Klaus Petersen

In this interdisciplinary volume, leading and emerging scholars examine the relationship between homogeneity and welfare state development. They trace Gunnar Myrdal’s influence on thinking about race in the US and explore current European states’ approaches to the strangers in their midst, and what social citizenship looks like from a global perspective.

Chapter 7: An American dilemma in Europe? Welfare reform and immigration

Romana Careja, Patrick Emmenegger and Jon Kvist

Subjects: politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, migration, welfare states


This chapter argues that in order to observe immigrant-targeted welfare retrenchment, researchers need to analyse more than levels of benefits. Focusing on policy programmes that provide a disproportionate amount of benefits to immigrants, especially those who are newly arrived, on eligibility criteria and the conditions and sanctions that are imposed on benefit claimants and their families, and on policies that regulate entry into and expulsion from the country, the authors uncover a variety of strategies through which governments can affect immigrants’ access to welfare benefits. The chapter covers the period from the 1990s through the 2000s and observes that relatively similar measures were adopted both in the UK and Denmark, indicating that a new ethnic divide marks the politics of welfare reform. However, the prediction that Europe follows in the footsteps of the United States is not fully supported, as the restrictive measures are accompanied by policies aimed at increasing immigrant integration and limiting social exclusion.

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