Today both researchers and policy-makers agree that refugees admitted to the European Union constitute a net cost and fiscal burden for the receiving societies.
In this lecture, Peo Hansen shows that this consensual cost-perspective on migration is built on a flawed economic conception of the orthodox “sound finance” doctrine prevalent in migration research and policy. By shifting perspective to examine migration through the macroeconomic lens offered by Modern Monetary Theory, Hansen is able to demonstrate sound finance’s detrimental impact on migration policy and research, including its role in stoking the toxic debate on migration in the EU. Most importantly, this undertaking offers the tools with which both migration research and migration policy could be modernized and put on a realistic footing. Investigating the case of Sweden, Hansen demonstrates how Sweden’s increased refugee spending in 2015–2017 proved to be fiscally risk-free and how the injection of funds to cash-strapped and depopulating municipalities, which received refugees, boosted economic growth and investment in welfare. Hansen’s aim is to reveal its applicability as a model for the EU as a whole.