Handbook on Migration and Social Policy
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Handbook on Migration and Social Policy

Edited by Gary P. Freeman and Nikola Mirilovic

In this detailed Handbook, an interdisciplinary team of scholars explores the consequences of migration for the social policies of rich welfare states. They test conflicting claims as to the positive and negative effects of different types of migration against the experience of countries in Europe, North America, Australasia, the Middle East and South Asia. The chapters assess arguments as to migration’s impact on the financial, social and political stability of social programs. The volume includes comprehensive reviews of existing scholarship as well as state of the art original empirical analysis.
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Chapter 17: Heterogeneity in the impact of immigration on social welfare spending

Stuart Soroka, Allison Harell and Shanto Iyengar


There is a burgeoning literature on the impact that immigration – and the social diversity that comes with it – may have on the welfare state. The central concern has been that the interpersonal trust on which a highly redistributive state relies is more difficult to sustain in highly diverse societies. There is ample evidence of a negative relationship between intolerance for diversity and support for social spending at the individual level, across a wide range of countries (e.g. Gilens 1999; Harell, Soroka and Ladner 2013); there is some empirical evidence of a negative relationship between immigration and social spending at the aggregate level as well, but there is also some work that finds no such relationship (e.g. Nannestad 2007; Portes and Vickstrom 2011; Soroka et al. 2006; Stichnoth and Straeten 2013). Recent research argues for the importance of taking into account moderating variables (e.g. Banting et al. 2006; Taylor-Gooby 2005; Lipsmeyer and Zhu 2011).

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