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
Date Written: May 14, 2020
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
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