Public Debate in the Media Matters: Evidence from the European Refugee Crisis

Caleb M. Koch, Izabela Moise, Dirk Helbing and Karsten Donnay. (2020). “Public Debate in the Media Matters: Evidence from the European Refugee Crisis.” EPJ Data Science, DOI: 10.1140/epjds/s13688-020-00229-8.

40 Pages Posted: 29 May 2018 Last revised: 21 May 2020

See all articles by Caleb M. Koch

Caleb M. Koch

ETH Zurich, Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences

Izabela Moise

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS)

Dirk Helbing

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS)

Karsten Donnay

Department of Political Science, University of Zurich

Date Written: May 14, 2020

Abstract

In this paper, we take a novel approach to study the empirical relationship between public debate in the media and asylum acceptance rates in Europe from 2002--2016. In theory, an asylum seeker should experience the same likelihood of being granted refugee status from each of the 20 European countries we study. Yet, in practice, acceptance rates vary widely for nearly every asylum country of origin. We address this inconsistency with a data-driven approach by analyzing refugee-related news articles and data on asylum decisions across 20 Europe countries for more than 100 asylum seekers' countries of origin. We find that: (i) public debate sentiment in the media is strongly associated with European countries' diverging asylum practices, much more so than social, cultural or economic factors, and (ii) by combining different measures of public debate we can make out-of-sample predictions within 3% of true acceptance rates (on average). We conclude by discussing the practical implications of our findings for European asylum practices.

Keywords: Mass media, Asylum seekers, Granger-causality analysis

Suggested Citation

Koch, Caleb M. and Moise, Izabela and Helbing, Dirk and Donnay, Karsten, Public Debate in the Media Matters: Evidence from the European Refugee Crisis (May 14, 2020). Caleb M. Koch, Izabela Moise, Dirk Helbing and Karsten Donnay. (2020). “Public Debate in the Media Matters: Evidence from the European Refugee Crisis.” EPJ Data Science, DOI: 10.1140/epjds/s13688-020-00229-8., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2957362 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2957362

Caleb M. Koch (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich, Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences ( email )

Zurich
Switzerland

Izabela Moise

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS) ( email )

Haldeneggsteig 4
Zurich, Zurich 8006
Switzerland

Dirk Helbing

ETH Zürich - Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences (GESS) ( email )

ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology
Clausiusstrasse 50
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.coss.ethz.ch

Karsten Donnay

Department of Political Science, University of Zurich ( email )

Affolternstrasse 56
Zürich, CH-8050
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.karstendonnay.net

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