MIFARE: Migrants’ Welfare State Attitudes

The MIFARE project provided insights on migrants’ attitudes to welfare state provisions and contributions, their knowledge of the use of services and benefits and their actual usage. 


Results from the project show that migrants have limited knowledge on when, after migration, their migrant group has access to social benefits. Although migrants have a better knowledge about access to health care (right after registration) and unemployment benefits (once migrants have formally worked in the residence country), they have hardly knowledge about entitlements to state pensions or social assistance schemes. This means that migrants could be much better informed about their social rights. Migrants vary strongly in the extent to which they perceive immediate access to welfare after immigration, but among none of the immigrant groups, more than a third perceives immediate access to all welfare domains. Instead, among immigrants groups from the US and Russia, more restricted access to welfare is perceived than factually is.

Origin country does remain to play a large role in understanding welfare state attitudes. Here we found that migrants from Japan and China prefer less government spending than natives. On the other hand, Spanish and Turkish migrants do prefer more spending. On some domains all migrant groups prefer less spending than natives do, e.g. in the domain of elderly care. We found that actual arrangements, as compared to country of origin arrangements, also affect people’s attitudes on government spending. For example, we found large differences on attitudes to child care spending preferences between Dutch natives and migrants. Migrants, in particular those in higher status groups, prefer more government spending on child care in the Netherlands than Dutch native do. The MIFARE study challenges the idea that all immigrants are supportive of extended welfare state arrangements.

Project links

Research Team

Prof. M. Lubbers
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen

Prof. C. Diehl
University of Konstanz

Prof. C.A. Larsen
Aalborg University