Social Security and Immigration: An Agenda for Future Research?
Zeitschrift fur Austlandisches und Internationales Arbeits- und Sozialrecht (ZIAS), Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 36-57, 2009
35 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2010
Date Written: January 5, 2010
In this paper, we argue that during recent periods of welfare state retrenchment, new immigrants generally have experienced greater levels of restriction on their social rights when compared with long-term migrants and citizens. However, the extent of new immigrants’ social rights (here social security) also depends on the structure of the welfare state prior to the period of retrenchment, and domestic political factors, which may either facilitate or limit the potential of government to initiate reforms that affect this group. The paper reviews the way institutional, political and macro-economic factors shape immigrant eligibility to welfare in contemporary legal systems. Drawing upon examples from Australia and Canada, we show that domestic policy considerations of social cohesion and harmonious integration, as well as concerns over welfare state costs, generally trump competing local or international values regarding possible labour law or social security entitlements of non citizens. The paper explores the theoretical argument that while institutional differences in the welfare state regimes of countries may at least partially explain the type of welfare state provision, and can even help to explain differing degrees of receptiveness to welfare provision for new immigrants within these regimes, compassion towards noncitizens ranks consistently very low within the domestic hierarchy of political values, and is trumped by the constellation of values comprising ‘national sovereignty’, and by other ‘path dependency’ values within the nation state. Our proposed future research agenda opens the opportunity to explore these theoretical arguments in more detail and across a wider range of countries to offer new insights into the worlds of immigrant welfare.
Keywords: immigrants, social security entitlements, welfare state models, human rights, future research
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation