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Host countries in the European Union: Are they welfare magnets for other EU citizens? (Perceptions vs. the evidence)

Klára Fóti's picture

In observance of the International Migrants Day, Dec 18
 
Even before 2004, when eight central and eastern European countries (including Poland) joined the European Union (EU), there were fears that citizens from these Member States would flood the more affluent western European countries, placing a burden on their welfare systems. With two additional central and eastern European countries—Bulgaria and Romania joined the EU in 2007, and restrictions on free movement of citizens from these two countries were lifted in January 2014—the debate on “welfare tourism” has heated up further, especially considering the lingering effects of the economic crisis in Europe. The arguments voiced in the debate suggest that the “new” EU mobile citizens are attracted precisely by better-quality services and easier access to those services in the more affluent western Member States.

Are migration motives and remittances behavior different for women?

Sonia Plaza's picture

Migration is a strategy followed by women when they face poverty or when they widowed or divorced. In India, women mainly migrate because they get married. In other countries women migrate to get better job opportunities, for education purposes or for family reunification. For example in Lesotho, since divorced women or widowers do not count with the income of a male migrant wage-earner, they are the ones who have to support their families.

Case study evidence of migrants’ labor market performance in receiving countries shows that most immigrants from developing countries, regardless of their destination, suffer an earnings penalty and higher inactivity levels and unemployment rates than nationals. In Europe, unemployment rates for immigrants originating from developing countries are uniformly higher than those from more developed economies. This gap is more pronounced for women than men across all skill levels (Page and Plaza, 2006). The situation is not different for immigrants in South Africa. The majority of female workers from Lesotho work in low-paying jobs since they have an irregular migration status. However, they get more money compared to what they get in Lesotho for the same work  that they do in South Africa. The majority of women from Lesotho work as domestic workers, followed by agricultural jobs and in the informal sector (Crush, Dodson, Gay and Leduka, 2010).