Handbook on Demographic Change and the Lifecourse
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Handbook on Demographic Change and the Lifecourse

Edited by Jane Falkingham, Maria Evandrou and Athina Vlachantoni

This innovative Handbook offers a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of demographic change across the lifecourse. Chapters highlight major theoretical and methodological advances and present research that sheds light on family dynamics, health and mobility over the lifecourse, illustrating the implications of lifecourse research for policy and reform.
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Chapter 16: Migration, welfare and the lifecourse in the context of the European Union: a case study of the Netherlands

Petra W. de Jong, Christof Van Mol and Helga A.G. de Valk

Abstract

There is much debate on the sustainability of (generous) welfare systems in the context of freedom of movement within the European Union (EU), often assuming that migrants’ welfare access is only regulated by national borders. In this chapter the authors analyse how and to what extent this assumption is accurate. They use large-scale population data from the Netherlands as a case study for analysing the migration patterns and labour market status of Polish and Bulgarian migrants after these countries joined the EU. Their findings do not support the political and scientific discourse that pressures on generous welfare systems increased due to the 2004 and 2007 EU enlargements. In practice, individuals’ welfare access in the context of free mobility of EU migrants is largely determined by national eligibility criteria tied to their lifecourse stage, labour market status and length of stay in the country. The authors’ findings point to the importance of including lifecourse characteristics for the study of migration and the welfare state.

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