TAX AND WELFARE SYSTEMS RESILIENCE AND RESILIENCE IN HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE NEW ERA OF MIGRATION

Villani, Salvatore (2016). 'TAX AND WELFARE SYSTEMS RESILIENCE AND RESILIENCE IN HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE NEW ERA OF MIGRATION' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.


abstract
European countries are facing an historic moment: they are entering a new era of extraordinary and unexpected changes. The severity of the economic crisis and the humanitarian emergency situation, caused by the abnormal wave of refugees, have put the governments of the EU countries in front of a set of challenges requiring a courageous, coordinated and unified response. These factors have also contributed in focusing public attention on two important issues progressively become more urgent and dramatic: the growth in inequalities and the financial implications of migration.
Recent research has shown that a certain kind of immigration – for example, the immigration of highly skilled workers – can reduce inequality and mitigate economic imbalances, thus fostering economic growth in long run. However, they also pointed out that designing policies of skill-based selection is complicated. These policies should be accompanied and supplemented by policies of social and economic integration.
This paper is aimed to examine to what extent immigration can work as an effective tool of redistribution, according to the skilled immigration equalising theory formulated by Kahanec and Zimmermann in 2008. Some research in the past showed that migration flows can work as an effective instrument of redistribution and could continue to play this role in the future. A conscious, and even strategic, management of these flows is possible and desirable, especially observing the society’s contemporary problems “through the prism of the «government of life» with a particular focus on the population as one of the foremost sites within which efforts to regulate, administer and optimize life continue to unfold today” (K. Villadsen, A. Wahlberg, 2015). We argue, however, that migration in itself would not resolve the issue of inequality. At most, it would shift this forward – as recently noted by T. Piketty (2013) –  because the redistribution through immigration does not exempt from previously creating a minimum set of rules and institutions aimed at incentivating a major coordination and collaboration by governments, at international, national and local level, to change the present management systems of migration, in order to take into consideration the interests of migrants and their source countries and areas, and correct their redistributive effects, trying to extend to all stakeholders – including would-be migrants – the economic benefits and costs of migration.
For these reasons, the study attempts to identify the optimal immigration policy to counteract the current appalling increase in inequality which threatens the realization of all human rights and includes, at the same time, some policy proposals to assist policy makers and lawgivers in the restyling of tax-benefit systems to correct the redistributive effects of migratory phenomena. This study aims, moreover, to discuss whether and to what extent strengthening the resilience of national tax and welfare systems can help build resilience in human rights. Some initial suggestions and recommendations in this regard are already provided by Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona and Philip Alston in the last Reports of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, in which it is explained that taxation and public expenditure must be considered key tools when tackling inequality and to generate the resources necessary for poverty reduction and the realization of human rights. Today, in fact, we have to consider that, because of tax abuses and the spread of austerity measures, all countries – not only the resource-rich countries but poor in income (that is, with low or middle income) – are suffering from a kind of “resource curse”, which does not allow them to fight effectively poverty and to deploy “the maximum available resources” to secure the human rights of their population.

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