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The project

Extended Summary

The MobileWelfare project aimed to understand the role of welfare systems in destination and origin countries for migration patterns within and towards Europe. The project moves beyond prior studies on the contested existence of 'welfare magnets' and the presumed threat of (low-skilled) migration to the viability of welfare state benefits. So far little is known on the role of welfare regimes in origin countries on migration aspirations and decisions. Furthermore, little empirical knowledge of the effects of transferability of welfare entitlements on mobility in Europe exists. To fill these gaps and understand how growing levels of mobility intersect with existing welfare regimes across Europe, the project addresses three research questions: How and to what extent do welfare systems affect mobility patterns in Europe? What role does transferability of welfare accounts play in mobility across Europe? To what extent and in what ways do perceptions of access to welfare arrangements in origin and destination countries shape migration decisions?


The project combines macro and micro perspectives, and applied a mixed-methods approach of innovative analysis of existing statistics and migration data added with new primary data collection via case studies in seven countries. We go beyond categorizations of receiving and sending countries by considering all case study countries simultaneously as origins and destinations. The extensive qualitative fieldwork within the project has resulted in a comparative data set where both European and non-European migrants as well as natives were interviewed in seven different countries (the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the UK). Furthermore an experimental design on the role of welfare for migration aspirations was applied among master students in three different countries (the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal).


Results from the project first of all show that welfare does not have a clear one way (attracting magnet) effect but differs by individual characteristics and life course stage. Secondly, European migrants didn’t know about welfare provisions in country of settlement before moving. Third, the use of general government welfare spending measures are not useful to understand individual decision-making which depends much more on risk avoidance in specific domains of life by providing a safety net for unforeseen circumstances.


Migration dynamics are high on the scientific and societal agenda. The project helps to understand the links between migration and welfare. As a result of the varied nature of welfare systems, countries may be able to attract immigrants to their societies while others fail to do so. Findings from the project suggest that migrants have limited knowledge before migration and that welfare issues come more in when considering onward or return migration. Different life course stages of the person are in this regard crucial as they result in different views on the importance of welfare provisions in different domains. The idea that higher benefits attract more migrants is thus challenged: if this is all the case, the relationship is way more complex. In the existing literature, the role of welfare regimes in origin countries on migration aspirations, decisions and practices was largely overlooked due to a ‘receiving country bias’. However, the project results point to the importance of welfare regimes and informal family provision in the origin country. Going beyond a one dimensional view on welfare and migration is thus much needed to understand the interplay throughout the life course of an individual.

Project leaders

Prof. dr. Helga A.G. de Valk (NIDI)

Dr. Oliver Bakewell (University of Oxford)

Dr. Pawel Kaczmarczyk (University of Warsaw)

Prof. dr. Lucinda Fonseca (University of Lisbon)

Team members

Petra de Jong (NIDI)

Ilse Rooyackers (NIDI)

Dr. Christof Van Mol (NIDI)

Dr. Kim Caarls (NIDI)

Marie Godin (University of Oxford)

Dominique Jolivet (University of Oxford)

Dr. Katarzyna Andrejuk (University of Warsaw)

Lucasz Byra (University of Warsaw)

Igor Jakubiak (University of Warsaw)

Dr. Anna Janicka (University of Warsaw)

Prof. dr. Alina Esteves (University of Lisbon)

Dr. Jared Larson (University of Lisbon)

Bruno Machado (University of Lisbon)

Dr. Jennifer McGarrigle (University of Lisbon)

Dr. Sónia Pereira (University of Lisbon)

Cooperation partners

Dr. Amparo Gonzalez Ferrer (Spanish National Research Council)

Prof. dr. Ahmet Icduygu (Koc University)

Dr. Ayşen Üstübici (Koc University)

Affiliated partners

Prof. dr. Hein de Haas (affiliated to University of Oxford)



MobileWelfare is an international research project on migration decisions and experiences with welfare arrangements of people living in European countries. Project teams in the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom are involved in the project.


The MobileWelfare project consists of three components, each with their own focus and approach.
In the first component, it is investigated whether a link exists between welfare arrangements and mobility patterns in Europe. For this, quantitative migration data is used.
In the second component, the view people have of welfare arrangements in countries where they live now and have lived in the past is studied. For this, interviews are conducted with migrants in the six participating countries, but also with people who never migrated, and people who returned to their country of origin after having lived abroad.
Lastly, in the third component it is studied what the role of legislation is for mobile people and how it affects welfare arrangements across Europe.


The MobileWelfare project runs for three years between 2015 and 2018 and received funding from Norface (a collaboration between research agencies across Europe). For more information and details have a further look at the website.




Mobile Welfare is een internationaal onderzoeksproject naar migratiekeuzes en ervaringen met sociale voorzieningen van mensen in Europese landen. Projectteams in Nederland, Engeland, Polen, Portugal, Spanje en Turkije zijn bij het project betrokken.


Het Mobile Welfare project bestaat uit drie onderdelen, die elk een eigen focus en aanpak hebben.

In het eerste onderdeel wordt onderzocht of er  een verband bestaat tussen sociale voorzieningen en migratiepatronen binnen Europa. Hiervoor wordt kwantitatieve migratiedata gebruikt.
In het tweede onderdeel wordt bekeken wat het beeld is dat mensen hebben van sociale voorzieningen in de landen waar zij nu wonen en in het verleden gewoond hebben. Hiervoor worden interviews afgenomen met migranten in de zes deelnemende landen, maar ook met mensen die nooit gemigreerd zijn evenals met mensen die na een periode in het buitenland zijn teruggekeerd naar hun land van herkomst.

In het derde onderdeel tenslotte wordt bestudeerd welke rol wetgeving speelt voor mobiele mensen en hoe het sociale voorzieningen binnen Europa beïnvloedt.


Het Mobile Welfare project loopt gedurende drie jaar, van 2015 tot 2018, en ontvangt financiering van Norface (een samenwerking tussen onderzoeksinstellingen in Europa). Voor meer informatie en details kijkt u verder op onze website.



MobileWelfare jest międzynarodowym projektem badawczym, który odnosi się do decyzji i doświadczeń migracyjnych mieszkańców krajów europejskich i wiąże je z rozwiązaniami w zakresie zabezpieczenia społecznego. W projekt zaangażowany jest międzynarodowy zespół badawczy, w skład którego wchodzą instytucje naukowe z Królestwa Niderlandów (lider), Wielkiej Brytanii, Polski, Portugalii, Hiszpanii i Turcji.


Projekt MobileWelfare składa się z trzech zasadniczych komponentów różniących się pod względem celu i metody analizy.

W ramach pierwszego komponentu badane są powiązania (o ile takowe istnieją) pomiędzy rozwiązaniami w sferze zabezpieczenia społecznego oraz wzorcami mobilności w Europie. Zadanie to realizowane jest przede wszystkim poprzez analizy o charakterze ilościowym.

Drugi komponent skupia się na percepcji systemów zabezpieczenia społecznego w krajach aktualnego pobytu oraz w tych, w których mieszkańcy Europy przebywali w przeszłości. Wykorzystywane jest podejście jakościowe, w ramach którego we wszystkich krajach zaangażowanych w projekt realizowane są wywiady pogłębione z migrantami, migrantami powrotnymi i osobami niemobilnymi.

Wreszcie, w przypadku trzeciego komponentu nacisk położony jest na rozwiązania legislacyjne i ich znaczenie dla funkcjonowania systemów zabezpieczenia społecznego w Europie i dla zachowań mobilnych i niemobilnych Europejczyków.


Projekt MobileWelfare zaplanowano na trzy lata (2015-2018), jest on finansowany w ramach europejskiej sieci badawczej NORFACE.

Więcej informacji na temat projektu można znaleźć na stronie www poświęconej MobileWelfare.



MobileWelfare es un proyecto de investigación internacional sobre decisiones migratorias y experiencias relacionadas con el bienestar social de personas residentes en Europa. El proyecto incluye equipos de investigación en Holanda, Reino Unido, Polonia, Portugal, España y Turquía.


El proyecto MobileWelfare se divide en tres partes con diferentes enfoques y métodos.

Por una parte, investigamos si existe una relación entre sistemas de bienestar social y pautas de movilidad en Europa. Para ello utilizamos datos cuantitativos sobre migración.

En segundo lugar, estudiamos como se perciben los sistemas de bienestar social en los países de residencia actuales y en los anteriores. Para ello, estamos llevando a cabo entrevistas a migrantes en los seis países del proyecto y en Noruega pero también a personas que nunca han migrado y a personas que han retornado a su país de origen tras haber vivido en el extranjero.

Por último, estudiamos el impacto de la legislación sobre personas móviles y las condiciones de bienestar social en Europa.


MobileWelfare es un proyecto de tres años entre 2015 y 2018 y está financiado por Norface (una colaboración entre agencias de investigación en Europa). Consulte nuestra página web para más información.



O Mobilewelfare é um projecto de pesquisa internacional sobre decisões migratórias e experiências relacionadas com o bem-estar social de pessoas residentes na Europa. O projecto inclui equipas de pesquisadores na Holanda, Reino Unido, Portugal, Polónia, Espanha e Turquia.

O projecto Mobilewelfare encontra-se dividido em três partes principais com distintos enfoques e métodos de pesquisa. Por um lado, pesquisamos se existe uma relação entre os sistemas de previdência social e os padrões de mobilidade na Europa. Para este fim, recorremos a dados quantitativos sobre migrações. Em segundo lugar, estudamos as percepções sobre os sistemas de protecção social nos países de residência actuais e nos países de origem ou de residência anterior. Neste âmbito, estamos a realizar entrevistas a migrantes residentes nos seis países do projecto e na Noruega, a pessoas que nunca migraram e a europeus que regressaram ao seu país de origem após uma experiência migratória no exterior. Por último, estudamos o impacto do quadro legislativo sobre as pessoas que se movem e nas condições de bem-estar social na Europa.

O Mobilewelfare é um projecto de três anos, decorre entre 2015 e 2018 e é financiado pelo NORFACE (colaboração entre agências de pesquisa europeias). Consulte a nossa página web para mais informação.


Mobile Welfare Avrupa ülkelerinde yaşayan insanların sosyal yardım düzenlemeleri ile birlikte göç kararları ve deneyimlerini araştıran uluslararası bir araştırma projesidir. Hollanda, İngiltere, Polonya, Portekiz, İspanya ve Türkiye ülkelerinden araştırma ekipleri projeyi sürdürmektedirler.

Mobile Welfare projesi, kendi odak noktaları ve yaklaşımları olan üç öğeden oluşmaktadır.

Birinci öğe, Avrupa’daki hareketlilik modelleri ve refah düzenlemeleri arasında herhangi bir bağlantı olup olmadığını araştırmaktadır. Bunun için, niceliksel veriler kullanılmaktadır. İkinci öğe, insanların şu anda ve daha önce yaşadıkları ülkelerdeki refah düzenlemeleri hakkındaki görüşlerini inceler. Bunun için, hem projeye dahil olan altı ülkeden gelen göçmenlerle, hem de hiç göç etmemiş veya yurtdışında yaşadıktan sonra menşe ülkelerine geri dönen insanlarla görüşmeler yapılmaktadır.  Son olarak üçüncü öğe olarak, yasaların,  insanların uluslararası hareketine ve Avrupa’daki sosyal yardım düzenlemelerine olan etkisi araştırılmaktadır.

Mobile Welfare Projesi 2015-2018 yılları arasında üç sene boyunca sürecektir ve Norface (Avrupa’daki araştırma kurumları arasındaki bir işbirliği) tarafından fonlanmaktadır. Daha fazla bigi ve detay için web sitemizi ziyaret edebilirsiniz.



MobileWelfare er et internasjonalt forskningsprosjekt om migrasjonsavgjørelser og erfaringer med velferdsordninger for personer bosatt i europeiske land. Prosjektet har forskningsteam i Nederland, Storbritannia, Polen, Portugal, Spania og Tyrkia.


MobileWelfare prosjektet består av tre deler, med hvert sitt fokus og framgangsmåte.

Den første delen undersøker om det eksisterer en sammenheng mellom velferdsordninger og migrasjonsmønstre i Europa. Dette undersøkes gjennom å bruke kvantitative data.

Den andre delen studerer folks inntrykk av velferdsordningene i landene de bor i i dag og i landene de har bodd i tidligere. Dette utføres gjennom intervjuer med både migranter fra de seks deltagende landene, med personer som aldri har migrert, og med personer som har returnert til opprinnelseslandet etter å ha bodd utenlands. 

Til slutt, den tredje delen studerer hvilken rolle lovgivning spiller for migranter og hvordan denne påvirker velferdsordninger i Europa.


MobileWelfare prosjektet går over tre år, mellom 2015 og 2018, og mottar støtte fra Norface (et samarbeid mellom europeiske forskningsinstitusjoner). For mer informasjon, klikk videre på nettsiden vår.




Korte samenvatting voor respondenten

Breve resumen para los encuestados

Krótkie podsumowanie dla



Breve Sumário


Görüşülen kişiler için kısa özet

Short summary for respondents



The comparative empirical study combines mixed (quantitative and qualitative) methods in order to improve the theorisation of the role welfare provision in migration aspirations and decisions. The study targets at migrant population with different needs, according to their position in the life cycle and taking into account the macro-, meso- and micro-level context, both from the origin and destination perspectives.


The project makes optimal and innovative use of existing data from across Europe, combining statistical analysis of secondary quantitative register and census data, available qualitative data and collection of new qualitative primary data to complement existing data sets.


Fuzzy set Qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA) will be used to summarize, check the coherence of the qualitative primary data and test the hypotheses. This methodology is appropriate for the analysis of limited number of cases taking into account causal complexity and addressing the inter-linkages among different macro and micro level factors (Kvist 2007).

Kort oppsummering

PhD projects


  1. Igor Jakubiak (CMR, University of Warsaw)
    Welfare and migration patterns in European Union – microeconomic migration decision determinants and their macrostructural consequences (PDF)

  2. Petra de Jong (NIDI)
    Welfare, Migration and the Life Course (PDF)

  3. Bruno Machado (IGOT, Universidade de Lisboa)
    Intra European Mobility and the Welfare State: The role of social protection on Portuguese migrants’ careers and aspirations (PDF)




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