Refugee Proximity and Support for Citizenship Exclusion in Africa

60 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2014 Last revised: 5 Feb 2018

See all articles by Yang-Yang Zhou

Yang-Yang Zhou

Princeton University, Department of Politics

Date Written: February 4, 2018


As forced migration reaches unprecedented levels, understanding how it affects local host communities is critical. This article examines how the presence of refugees can change local citizens’ opposition to citizenship inclusion in sub-Saharan Africa, an understudied region where sizable refugee populations are hosted. Using new data on the geographic locations of refugee communities, and 35,000 geo-referenced Afrobarometer respondents across 22 countries, I find that citizens who live near refugees in their country are substantially more likely to support restrictions on citizenship access – particularly with respect to granting birthright citizenship – compared to fellow citizens farther away. This effect is stronger for newer refugee sites. Placebo tests support the claim that there is no selection on unobserved confounders. Furthermore, citizens near refugees report lower confidence in the national economy and less interpersonal trust, which suggests that the threats they perceive from refugee proximity are both economic and social.

Keywords: citizenship, refugees, migration, Africa, Afrobarometer, GIS

Suggested Citation

Zhou, Yang-Yang, Refugee Proximity and Support for Citizenship Exclusion in Africa (February 4, 2018). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN:

Yang-Yang Zhou (Contact Author)

Princeton University, Department of Politics ( email )

Princeton, NJ
United States

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