Welfare States and Migration: How Will the Pandemic Reshape a Complex Relationship?

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Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Europe was facing a set of interlocking challenges—a rise in spontaneous migration, an aging population, and a changing labor market—all of which put pressure on public finances. The public-health crisis has further exacerbated the situation, imposing huge costs on governments as they scramble to safeguard employment and protect vulnerable groups, including migrants disproportionately affected by job losses. Will this "perfect storm" rock the foundations of European welfare systems in the long term, and how? Will welfare states manage to adapt, and if so, what are the most promising innovations? How can governments close gaps in the social safety net, while laying the groundwork for economic recovery and long-term sustainability?

This two-part MPI Europe event, moderated by MPI's Meghan Benton, examines these important questions. In the first session, veteran migration thinkers Demetrios G. Papademetriou and Grete Brochmann will reflect on the implications of this current moment for European economies and societies, and the role of immigration. The second session, with Jacopo Mazza, Scientific Officer at the Joint Research Centre, highlighted research from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre on the fiscal and demographic impacts of migration. MPI Europe's Liam Patuzzi and Natalia Banulescu-Bogdan, along with European University Institute's Martin Ruhs explored the pandemic’s particular effects on migrants and refugees, gaps in the social safety net, the role immigrant integration policy can play in maximizing the benefits of migration, and smart ideas that governments are implementing to ensure immigration is an economic and demographic asset for the future.

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