People exiting a train station

L’Immigration et l’État-providence

MUNICH – Le conflit armé qui déstabilise certains pays arabes a soulevé une énorme vague de réfugiés cherchant, pour beaucoup, à rejoindre l’Europe. En 2015, l’Allemagne a reçu à elle seule 1,1 million d’entre eux. Concomitamment, l’application du principe de libre circulation génère d’importants flux migratoires intra-européens, pourtant largement ignorés. En 2014, le solde migratoire net de l’Allemagne avec l’Union européenne était, fait sans précédent, de 304 000 personnes, et les chiffres de 2015 sont probablement comparables.

Certains États membres, dont l’Autriche, la Hongrie, la Slovénie, l’Espagne et la France, ainsi que le Danemark et la Suède, qui, tous deux, s’étaient d’abord montrés accueillants, ont réagi en suspendant, de fait, les accords de Schengen et en rétablissant les contrôles aux frontières. Les économistes n’en sont pas réellement surpris. Dans les années quatre-vingt-dix, des dizaines d’articles scientifiques ont paru sur la question des migrations dans les États-providence, qui envisageaient nombre des problèmes aujourd’hui d’actualité. J’ai moi-même beaucoup écrit à l’époque sur le sujet, tentant – en vain, le plus souvent – d’alerter l’attention des responsables politiques.

L’enjeu est essentiel. Les États-providence se définissent par le principe de redistribution : ceux dont les revenus sont au-dessus de la moyenne paient plus d’impôts et cotisent plus qu’ils ne reçoivent en retour des services publics, tandis que ceux dont la rémunération est inférieure à la moyenne paient moins qu’ils ne reçoivent. Cette redistribution, qui draine les ressources publiques nettes vers les ménages à faibles revenus, apporte une correction sensible à l’économie de marché, sorte d’assurance contre les vicissitudes de la vie et la dure loi du prix de la rareté, qui caractérise le marché et n’a que peu à voir avec la justice sociale.

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