A recent study on immigration and their economic and demographic impact carried out by the Basque Country’s government (Spain) refutes the so-often myth of the economic burden immigrants is for society. On the contrary, the report shows that immigrants’ contributions, through direct and indirect taxes, are significantly higher than the costs arising from subsidies or other types of social assistance. These results dismantle one of the main arguments held by xenophobic and anti-immigration movements with the purpose of limiting the number of foreigners living in Spain, promoting, instead, a more open and multicultural society, which would benefit everyone of us.
Foreigners living in the Basque Country contribute to the region’s treasury with more money than they receive in the form of social assistance. This is the main conclusion reached by the study “The economic and demographic impact of immigration in the Basque Country”, developed by the Basque Observatory on Immigration-Ikuspegi. This report estimates that the direct and indirect taxes paid by immigrants in 2012 were of 631 million euros. During that same year, they received 593 million as government subsidies. Thus, immigrants can be considered net contributors to the Basque Country’s treasure, according with the study, as their contribution is bigger than the costs they originate to the social welfare.
The Basque Country’s regional government, which has sponsored the study, considers that this data refutes the general idea of immigrants receiving more than they contribute with.
The research takes 2008 (before the global economic crisis) and 2012 (during the economic crisis) as the years of analysis. In both years, their contribution to the treasury was positive. In the first case, with 71 million euros, in the second with 38 million. The Basque Country’s regional government, which has sponsored the study, considers that this data refutes the general idea of immigrants receiving more than they contribute with, while trying to measure its real impact in official data and numbers.
The social benefits assigned to the foreign population was of 371 million euros in 2008 and 593 million euros in 2012, given that this group is “among the ones who have suffered the crisis the most”, points out Ikuspegui. The income generated during these same years was of 443 million euros in 2008 and 631 million euros in 2012.
The increase in social spending comes, mainly, from economic benefits and social services, which increased in 118 million between 2008 and 2012, while the spending in education (+41 million), health (+44 million) and housing (+16 million) increased in a more moderate way.
“Immigrants have rejuvenated an ageing society, have boosted the birth rate, and have contributed with people at an employable age.”
Meanwhile, the increase in their contributions is due to an increase in tax collection (IRPF, in Spanish) (+88 million) and social contributions (+68 million), while special taxes (+3 million) and VAT taxes (+29 million) increased more moderately.
Immigration has also had a demographic impact. The report emphasizes that this is “extremely positive”, as the Basque Country would have lost approximately 50,000 inhabitants if it were not for the arrival of foreigners. “Immigrants have rejuvenated an ageing society, have boosted the birth rate, and have contributed with people at an employable age who have not studied in the Basque education system, which means that they have not implied any cost”, highlights the study.