No welfare magnets – free movement and cross-border welfare in Germany and Denmark compared

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Series Details Volume 26, Number 5, Pages 637-655
Publication Date May 2019
ISSN 1466-4429 (online)
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A ‘dually open’ free movement system has evolved in the European Union (EU), granting EU citizens the right to free movement within the Union as well as cross-border welfare rights. Some scholarly literature and public debates have characterised the system as corrosive to the nationally organised welfare state, which will become a ‘magnet’ for the European poor.

This paper examines how the German and Danish welfare states have responded to the ‘dual open’ system and its outcomes in terms of EU citizens’ take-up rate of non-contributory benefits between 2007 and 2015. We show that the domestic responses were mostly restrictive and that outcomes remained rather stable. Our findings do not support the welfare magnet thesis but instead identify a tendency to a bifurcated social protection system for EU citizens in Germany.

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