Does migration threaten the welfare state and how do refugees in Africa challenge citizenship?

In this episode, we speak to Professor Keith Banting, Queen’s Research Chair in Public Policy and Professor in the Department of Political Studies and the School of Policy Studies at Queens University, and Dr Andreas Bergh, Associate Professor in Economics at Lund University as well as the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Stockholm, about whether there is a conflict between migration and the welfare state. We also talk to Dr Lucy Hovil, Senior Researcher at the International Refugee Rights Initiative, about her new book Refugees, Conflict and the Search for Belonging.

It’s very important not to develop a master narrative of trust and diversity based on one country. These things vary with context.

Keith Banting

In the podcast, Banting tells us about research he has undertaken on the relationship on trust, diversity and multiculturalism. Together with Professor Will Kymlicka, he has edited the volume Multiculturalism and the Welfare State, as well as the forthcoming The Strains of Commitment. To read more of Banting’s work on migration and welfare, see for example here, here, here and here.

The welfare state is not the problem. The problem and the pressure will be out on the Swedish labour market model. That is my tentative conclusion.

Andreas Bergh

Berg and Banting also discussed how the migration/welfare nexus differed in Canada and Sweden. Bergh has conducted extensive research on the welfare state, and in particular the Swedish welfare state, and has become interested in how it may be affected by immigration. For more of Bergh’s research, see for example here and here and at his blog.

The myth that refugees are economically better off in camps is obviously wrong on the basis [of examples from the book].

Lucy Hovil

Amongst several aspects of belonging and displacement that Hovil discusses in her book, she gave some examples of refugees who have opted out of the settlement structure. For example, in Uganda a group of self-settled refugees received any humanitarian assistance, but negotiated access to small a piece of land, which they farmed and were able to send their children to school. This was in contrast to refugees in camps who had become dependent on the humanitarian machinery. Read more by Hovil here and here.


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