ESOC Working Paper #29 - The Causes and Consequences of Refugee Flows: A Contemporary Re-Analysis

Publication Year
ESOC Working Paper Series

The world faces a forcible displacement crisis. Across the world, tens of millions of individuals have been
forced from their homes and across international boundaries. The causes and consequences of refugee
flows are, therefore, the subjects of significant social science inquiry. Unfortunately, historical lack of
reliable data on i) actual refugee flows and ii) country-specific data reporting timelines has significantly
limited empirical inferences on these topics. Using data newly released by the United Nations on annual
dyadic flows (and periods of data coverage by country), we replicate twenty-five studies published in
economics and political science journals on the causes and consequences of these flows. Given concerns
over external validity and lack of global asylum seeker data before the year 2000, we extend thirteen of
these. We find that some of the causes of flows described in the literature are less substantively and/or
statistically significant than previously reported while others are more. Generally, with some exceptions,
we find that previously reported effects of refugees on security conditions are attenuated, suggesting that
the literature’s predominant focus on refugees as sources of violent instability may be overstated.


ESOC Working Paper 29

Publication Topic
Civil War, Insurgency, and Terrorism
Publication Type
ESOC Working Paper