Migration policy and the welfare state in comparative and historical perspective
The relationship between migration policy and the welfare state is highly topical in contempo- rary politics. Participants in the public debate tend to take polarized positions on this issue, and recent events, such as the “Brexit” vote in the United Kingdom, have demonstrated that the issue of migration policy and the welfare state can be politically explosive.
The relationship between migration policy and the welfare state is also contested in the schol- arly literature. Some scholars take the position that a high level of immigration will erode the welfare state in the longer run, while others emphasize that the notions of universality and solidarity – on which the welfare state rests – increases its ability to receive newcomers.
Our approach considers that migration policy and the welfare state are mutually dependent. Rather than trying to study the effects of one on the other, we explore the co-evolution of migration policy and the welfare state. Our research questions are: (1) When and where have governments historically adopted different combinations of migration policies (liberal/restrictive) and social policies (generous/not generous)? (2) Which economic and political factors best explain this variation?
We use a mixed-methods design, combining quantitative and qualitative methods. The quantitative part of the project will consist of a large-N study of more than 20 countries during the entire period between the second half of the nineteenth century and 2010. The qualitative part of the project will be based on careful investigations of a few especially interesting coun- tries and period. On the basis of new data, our team will be in a position, for the first time, to examine the relationship between migration policies and welfare-state policies throughout the history of the modern welfare state.