Evaluating the Impact of Asylum Policies on Refugee Integration in Europe

What are the key parameters of the asylum process that affect the subsequent integration of refugees?

Project Summary

This project will provide a comprehensive assessment of how key policy parameters of the asylum process causally affect the subsequent integration of asylum seekers who have been granted some form of refugee or refugee like status in Europe. European governments are confronted with the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Faced with this conundrum, European policy makers are struggling with the design of the asylum process and programs for refugee integration. There are heated debates about what should or should not be done with asylum seekers and refugees. Despite the urgent and fundamental policy challenge, we desperately lack reliable causal tests that examine how key parameters of the asylum process affect the subsequent integration of refugees. Therefore, the goal of this project is to fill this gap and make a leap in providing some of the first systematic evidence that examines how the key policy parameters of the asylum process affect the subsequent short and long-term integration of refugees in six key receiving countries in Europe: Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

This project will utilise quasi-experimental research designs and take advantage of high quality register panel data coupled with targeted surveys to better understand where and for whom asylum policies and programs are working or failing. Specifically, we will examine how waiting times, geographic assignment, labour market restrictions, integration courses and welfare support affect refugees and their children. As Europe faces one of its largest challenges in recent memory, this project will provide systematic information to help countries integrate a new generation of European residents, refugees.

Academic Output

Working Paper

Attitudes toward Migrants in a Highly-Impacted Economy: Evidence from the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Jordan

With international migration at a record high, a burgeoning literature has explored the drivers of attitudes toward migrants. However, most major studies to date have focused on developed countries, which have relatively few migrants and substantial capacity to absorb them. We address this sample bias by conducting a large-scale representative survey of public attitudes toward Syrians in Jordan, a developing country with one of the largest shares of refugees. Our analysis indicates that neither personal nor community-level exposure to the economic impact of the refugee crisis is associated with anti-migrant sentiments among natives. Further, an embedded conjoint experiment validated with qualitative evidence demonstrates the relative importance of humanitarian and cultural concerns over economic ones. Taken together, our findings weaken the case for egocentric and sociotropic economic concerns as critical drivers of anti-migrant attitudes, and demonstrate how humanitarian motives can sustain support for refugees when host and mi- grant cultures are similar.

Working Paper

Do Dual Citizenship Laws Increase Naturalization Rates? Mixed Evidence from the United States and Switzerland

Many countries allow immigrants who naturalize to retain their home country citizenship. Recent studies have argued that these dual citizenship laws considerably increase naturalization rates, but these studies examined reforms from only a small set of origin countries. We re-evaluate the impact of dual citi- zenship laws using a temporal regression discontinuity design applied to dual citizenship reforms adopted by 38 origin countries between 1992 and 2015. We examine these reforms’ effects on 19.7 million immigrants living in the United States and Switzerland, which have some of the least and most restrictive naturalization regimes, respectively, of the world’s destination countries. Among the effects of these reforms, 59 percent are null, while only 23 percent are positive and 18 percent are negative. Our findings indicate that dual citizenship reforms alone are often not an effective policy tool to increase naturalization rates.

Executive Summary

Governments across the globe are still struggling to cope with the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Since 2015, Europe received more than 2 million asylum seekers and refugees, and a similar number is seeking refuge and shelter in the MENA region. For many asylum seekers and refugees, the refugee crisis has turned into an integration crisis with many still waiting for decisions on their asylum applications and struggling to find jobs and a social network in their new home countries. Against this background, this project conducted much needed and actionable research into the impact of various asylum and integration policies in Europe, and the drivers of public attitudes towards refugees in the MENA region.

Article

The long-term impact of employment bans on the economic integration of refugees

Many European countries impose employment bans that prevent asylum seekers from entering the local labor market for a certain waiting period upon arrival. We provide evidence on the long-term effects of these employment bans on the subsequent economic integration of refugees. We leverage a natural experiment in Germany, where a court ruling prompted a reduction in the length of the employment ban. We find that, 5 years after the waiting period was reduced, employment rates were about 20 percentage points lower for refugees who, upon arrival, had to wait for an additional 7 months before they were allowed to enter the labor market. It took up to 10 years for this employment gap to disappear. Our findings suggest that longer employment bans considerably slowed down the economic integration of refugees and reduced their motivation to integrate early on after arrival. A marginal social cost analysis for the study sample suggests that this employment ban cost German taxpayers about 40 million euros per year, on average, in terms of welfare expenditures and foregone tax revenues from unemployed refugees.

Article

Ethnic networks can foster the economic integration of refugees

There is widespread concern in Europe and other refugee- receiving continents that living in an enclave of coethnics hinders refugees’ economic and social integration. Several European governments have adopted policies to geographically disperse refugees. While many theoretical arguments and descriptive studies analyze the impact of spatially concentrated ethnic networks on immigrant integration, there is limited causal evidence that sheds light on the efficacy of these policies. We provide evidence by studying the economic integration of refugees in Switzerland, where some refugees are assigned to live in a specific location upon arrival and, by law, are not permitted to relocate during the first 5 y. Leveraging this exogenous placement mechanism, we find that refugees assigned to locations with many conationals are more likely to enter the labor market. This benefit is most pronounced about 3 y after arrival and weakens somewhat with longer residency. In addition, we find that, among refugees employed by the same company, a high proportion share nationality, ethnicity, or language, which suggests that ethnic residential networks transmit information about employment opportunities. Together, these findings contribute to our understanding of the importance of ethnic networks for facilitating refugee integration, and they have implications for the design of refugee allocation policies.

Article

A Multidimensional Measure of Immigrant Integration

The successful integration of immigrants into a host country’s society, economy, and polity has become a major issue for policymakers in recent decades. Scientific progress in the study of immigrant integration has been hampered by the lack of a common measure of integration, which would allow for the accumulation of knowledge through comparison across studies, countries, and time. To address this fundamental problem, we propose the IPL-Integration Index as a pragmatic and multidimensional measure of immigrant integration. The measure, both in the 24-item long form (IPL-24) and the 12-item short form (IPL-12), captures six dimensions of integration: psycho- logical, economic, political, social, linguistic, and navigational. The measure can be employed across countries, over time, and across different immigrant groups, and can be administered through short questionnaires available in different modes. We report on four surveys we conducted to evaluate the empirical performance of our mea- sure. The tests reveal that the measure distinguishes among immi- grant groups with different expected levels of integration and also correlates with well-established predictors of integration.

Research Team

Dominik Hangartner
Coordinator
University of Zurich

Flavia Fossati
Co-Coordinator
University of Lausanne

Marco Steenbergen
Co-Coordinator
University of Zurich

Ben Wilson
Principal Member
University of London

Ghias Aljundi
Associated Member
University of London

Constantin Hruschka
Associated Member
Swiss Refugee Council

Aline Buetikofer
Associated Member
Norwegian School of Economics

David Laitin
Associated Member
Stanford University

Simone Cremaschi
Associated Member
European University Institute

Moritz Marbach
Associated Member
Universität Mannheim

Jens Hainmueller
Associated Member
Stanford University

Kare Vernby
Associated Member
Uppsala Universitet

Status

completed

Disciplines

Themes

Regions

Countries

Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland

Host Institution

Coordinator

Year