People exiting a train station

La inmigración hacia el interior del Estado de bienestar

MÚNICH – El conflicto armado que desestabiliza a algunos países árabes ha desatado una enorme ola de refugiados que se desplazan hacia Europa. En el año 2015 llegaron, sólo a Alemania, alrededor de 1,1 millones de refugiados. Así mismo, la adopción del principio de libertad de circulación en Europa ha provocado flujos migratorios masivos intraeuropeos, no obstante que, en gran medida, dichos flujos pasan inadvertidos. En el año 2014, Alemania experimentó un flujo neto de ingreso de 304.000 personas provenientes de otros países de la Unión Europea, y probablemente se registra una cifra similar para el año 2015.

Algunos miembros de la UE, entre ellos Alemania, Austria, Hungría, Eslovenia, España, Francia, y los inicialmente acogedores Dinamarca y Suecia, han reaccionado suspendiendo virtualmente el Acuerdo de Schengen y restableciendo los controles fronterizos. Los economistas no están realmente sorprendidos por esto. En la década de 1990, decenas de trabajos académicos abordaron el tema de la migración hacia los Estados de bienestar, discutiendo muchos de ellos los problemas que ahora se hacen aparentes. En aquel momento yo también  escribí bastante sobre el tema, intentando despertar – generalmente en vano – algo de conciencia al respecto entre los formuladores de políticas.

Un asunto fundamental está en juego. Los Estados de bienestar se definen por el principio que señala que aquellos que disfrutan de ingresos por encima del promedio pagan más impuestos y contribuciones en comparación con lo que ellos reciben en retorno en la forma de servicios públicos, mientras que aquellos cuyos ingresos son inferiores a la media pagan menos de lo que reciben. Esta redistribución, que canaliza los recursos públicos netos hacia los hogares de menores ingresos, es una corrección sensata a la economía de mercado, es una especie de seguro contra las vicisitudes de la vida y los rigores de la fijación de precios de escasez que caracterizan a la economía de mercado y que tienen poco que ver con un comportamiento de carácter equitativo.

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