Immigrants cost the state nothing (or almost), according to an OECD study

Immigration would cost the state little or nothing. By making the ratio between the contributions paid by immigrants and the public expenditure of the State, the OECD estimates, in a study devoted Thursday to their “budgetary impact”, that this cost is balanced. And can even be positive. “In all countries, the contribution of immigrants in the form of taxes and contributions is greater than the expenditure that countries devote to their social protection, their health and their education”, assures the organization in this report which relates to its 25 Member States for the period 2006-2018.

In France, for example, the net budgetary contribution of people born abroad is 1.02% of GDP against an average of 1.56% for all countries. “What focuses the public debate, especially in France, is the cost that immigration can represent in terms of social spending, health, etc. This question should not obsess us, because when we take the account, we observe that the contribution is positive until military expenditure and public debt are taken into account ”, analyzes Jean-Christophe Dumont, head of the Migration division. of the OECD.

When the defense budget and the repayment of the public debt, which concern the entire population, are taken into account, the contribution becomes negative for France (-0.85%) as for the average of the 25 countries studied (-0 , 16). “The budgetary impact of immigrants is low,” summarizes Ana Damas de Matos, author of the study.

These data “reflect the migratory history of each country”, estimates the economist: “In countries where there has been a lot of recent and young immigration, we will have a more positive contribution, as in Italy or Spain. And vice versa. France is in an intermediate situation ”, with an older immigrant population.

Poor integration into the labor market

There is “a misunderstanding between the individual situation of immigrants and the impact of their entire population,” said Lionel Ragot, professor of economics at the University of Paris Nanterre. “Individually, they are more unemployed, receive more benefits, it’s true. This is the shortcut that is often put forward to say that they are very expensive for France. Except that this individual result is compensated by an age structure, with immigrants who are often in the working population and who therefore pay a lot, ”he says.

Today, according to the OECD, public spending on immigrants is lower than for the rest of the population in areas such as old age and survivors’ pensions, sickness, disability, education, health. Conversely, they are stronger with regard to the family, unemployment, social exclusion and housing.

Towards a better integration policy?

Overall, people born abroad contribute 11% less than “natives” to the state budget. Participation “weighed down” by poor integration into the labor market, with 56% of immigrants in employment in France, decrypts Jean-Christophe Dumont.

The OECD therefore carried out a simulation: with an employment rate similar to the rest of the population, immigrants could generate an additional 0.2% of GDP for the public accounts. “The contribution is positive, but it could be much more positive,” adds Jean-Christophe Dumont. “The integration policy is not an expense, you have to see it as an investment. With a return on investment. “

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