If You Pay Them, Will They Leave?

If You Pay Them, Will They Leave?

As unemployment increases worldwide, countries are looking at ways to stop the bleeding. Spain, Japan and the Czech Republic have decided to pay unemployed immigrants to return to their homelands.

Spain is offering immigrants from outside Europe an average of $18,500 in unemployment benefits to leave. The government is hoping to lower its 17.4 percent unemployment rate, the highest in Europe. Those who take the deal get 40 percent up front, 60 percent once they arrive in their countries of origin. They can't reapply for work visas in Spain for three years.

Japan is offering a one-time payment of 300,000 yen (about $3,100) to South American factory workers of Japanese descent who buy a plane ticket home, plus an additional sum for each dependent. Immigrants taking the deal agree not to "return until economic and employment conditions improve." Japan's unemployment benefits pay nearly $2,100 per month. So, unemployed immigrants could theoretically make more money without a job in Japan than they would by taking the offer to leave.

The Czech government will provide unemployed non-EU citizens with a ticket home plus 500 Euros — more if the worker has young children, reports the Wall Street Journal. When the program started, there were no restrictions on when a worker could return. On April 1, however, the Czech Republic stopped issuing work visas for five countries including Mongolia, whose citizens represent two-thirds of those in the pay-to-leave program.

Impacts on unemployment have been negligible at best. The Czech Interior Ministry says that their program has been a success: it's filled nearly 65 percent of its 2,000-person quota. Still, that number is less than 1 percent of all unemployed workers. The 4,000 people who've accepted Spain's offer is far from the government's goal of 100,000. And fewer than 400 people have applied for the program in Japan.

It seems that many immigrants are choosing to weather the economic storm where they are. Their chances of gainful employment in the country they left must not be any better.

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