Macroeconomic Evidence Suggests that Asylum Seekers are Not a “Burden” for Western European Countries

Hippolyte d’Albis, Ekrame Boubtane, Dramane Coulibaly

Science Advances, Volume 4, 20 Jun 2018


This paper aims to quantify the economic and fiscal effects of inflows of asylum seekers into Western European countries from 1985 to 2015. Using an empirical methodology to estimate the macroeconomic effects of structural shocks and policies, the authors examine effects on host countries’ economic performance, as measured by public spending per capita, net taxes per capita, GDP per capita, and unemployment rate. They show that:

  • Inflows of asylum seekers do not deteriorate host countries’ economic performance or fiscal balance because the increase in public spending induced by asylum seekers is more than compensated for by an increase in tax revenues net of transfers.
  • As asylum seekers become permanent residents, their macroeconomic impacts become positive.

The results suggest that the migrant crisis currently experienced by Europe is not likely to provoke an economic crisis but might rather be an economic opportunity.