East European workers in this country have often been accused of ‘welfare hopping’ or undercutting Danish workers, but a new study shows they have made a positive contribution to the state since 2006.
The report by Copenhagen University and the National Research Centre for Welfare, based on the most comprehensive research ever into income and expenditure from foreign EU citizens, reveals that on average, every EU resident made a net contribution of DKK21,205 to the state in 2013, the last year of available data. The research is based on factors such as tax payments and welfare handouts, but also the individual’s use of the education and health system and their share of policing, defence, infrastructure repairs and all other tax-funded public tasks.
One of the authors of the report, Professor Dorte Sindbjerg Martinsen of Copenhagen University, said although ‘eastern workers’ generally earn less they don’t demand as much welfare as Danes. She told Politiken:
“The political debate in this country has focused on whether EU residents are a burden on the welfare state but our research refutes this.”
One of the most vociferous critics of eastern European immigrants, Danish People’s Party leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl, noted that a similar Finance Minister report from 2014, based on spot checks, concluded that collectively, the newcomers provided a DKK600m loss for the state, but he welcomed the ‘broad scope’ of the new study:
“It’s good to see that east Europeans in Denmark could be making a more positive contribution than previously assumed, but they are still undermining our society by taking unskilled jobs and forcing low-paid Danish workers out of the labour market,” he said.
Employment Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said he has ‘no reason’ to doubt the new figures but repeated the government’s aim to limit foreigners’ rights to social benefits.