Przejdź do głównej treści Przejdź do nawigacji
Ośrodek Badań nad Migracjami

Karolina Łukasiewicz, Ewa Cichocka, Kamil Matuszczyk. 2024.

A missed opportunity: Local welfare systems’ responses to marginalized migration in the COVID-19 context


Cities Volume 148, (2024) 104880


  • An opportunity to extend migrants’ social rights was missed due to a lack of sustainable funding and inclusive access.

  • The pandemic exacerbated the pre-pandemic negative effects of neoliberal policy decentralization on marginalized residents.

  • Local economic and housing conditions, healthcare access, and types of migrant marginalizations determined needs for services.

  • Liberal welfare regimes introduced ad hoc provisions to address migrants’ needs, but they turned out temporary and inadequate.

  • Universalistic regimes were better equipped to deal with the crisis, but left marginalized migrants excluded from accessing services.


The article assesses local welfare systems' (LWS) responses to the needs of marginalized migrants in four Global North cities (Stockholm, Berlin, London and New York) in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on 95 interviews with low-income migrants and other stakeholders, we analyze the structure of local service demand and supply; and the opportunities and risks involved in governing migrant urban marginality in a crisis context. Our results indicate that while the pandemic presented an opportunity for the extension of the social rights of marginalized migrants, this opportunity was missed in the post-COVID context due to a lack of sustainable funding and inclusive access. Despite the unprecedented scale of the ad hoc provision made available in London and New York, responses to the needs of marginalized migrant populations remained illusory, inadequate, temporary, and inefficient. More supportive regular programming that existed in Stockholm and Berlin remained exclusive to deserving (regularized) migrants. Our research highlights some previously-overlooked effects of policy decentralization, all of which were exacerbated by the pandemic. These effects include: under- and unstable funding; the difficulty of navigation between multiple service providers; and the division of migrants into those deemed ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ of support.