This paper presents an empirical assessment of bilateral migration flows into the EU-15 countries. Using an extended gravity model, it identifies economic, welfare state, geospatial and linguistic variables as the principal determinants of migration flows into the EU-15 countries. As long as its effect is not offset by a high unemployment rate in the host country, the level of social protection expenditure influences migrants' choice of destination. However, albeit acting as a joint force with other economic, cultural and geospatial variables, the welfare state characteristics of the host country need to be reckoned with when studying European migration flows. Our empirical findings lend some support for a more unified or at least better coordinated social policy across the European Union.
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