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Project: Mobile Welfare

European welfare states in times of mobility

The Mobile Welfare project aims to understand the role of welfare systems in destination and origin countries for migration patterns within and towards Europe.

Welfare states were developed and associated with the nation state, explaining why provisions remain predominantly linked to nationality and residency. The project moves beyond prior studies on the contested existence of 'welfare magnets' and the presumed threat of (low-skilled) migration to the viability of welfare state benefits. A 'receiving country bias' has caused research to neglect the important role of welfare regimes in origin countries on migration aspirations and decisions. Furthermore, little empirical knowledge of the effects of transferability of welfare entitlements on mobility in Europe exists. To fill these gaps and understand how growing levels of mobility intersect with existing welfare regimes across Europe, the project addresses three research questions:

  • How and to what extent do welfare systems affect mobility patterns in Europe?
  • To what extent and how do perceptions of access to welfare arrangements in origin and destination countries shape migration decisions?
  • What role does transferability of welfare accounts play in mobility across Europe?

The project combines macro and micro perspectives, and applies a mixed-methods approach of innovative analysis of existing statistics and migration data added with new primary data collection via case studies in seven countries. It goes beyond reductionist categorisations of receiving and sending countries by considering all case study countries simultaneously as origins and destinations.


Project publications are available on the Mobile Welfare project website:

NIDI Research team

Project website

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