Reciprocity in welfare institutions and attitudes to free movement in EU receiving countries

This paper analyses the determinants of public attitudes to the “free movement” of workers in the European Union. We add to the small but growing research literature on this issue by focusing on how the characteristics of national welfare institutions affect public attitudes to intra-EU labour mobility. More specifically, we explore the role of what we see as the degree of “institutional reciprocity” in national systems of social protection in explaining variations of attitudes to free movement across 12 EU Member States. We do not find evidence of a direct effect of institutional reciprocity on attitudes to free movement. However, we identify an interaction effect which suggests that higher degrees of institutional reciprocity in national social protection systems in general, and in unemployment insurance systems in particular, are associated with lower levels of opposition to free movement among unemployed people.

Authors: Moa Mårtensson, Marcus Österman, Joakim Palme and Martin Ruhs

This paper was prepared as part of the  REMINDER project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727072.