Reexamining the Effect of Refugees on Civil Conflict: A Global Subnational Analysis
92 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2018 Last revised: 15 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 12, 2021
A large literature suggests that the presence of refugees is associated with greater risk of conflict. We argue that the potentially positive effects of hosting refugees on local conditions have been over-looked. Using global data from 1990 to 2018 on locations of refugee communities and civil conflict at the subnational level, we find no empirical support that hosting refugees increases the likelihood of new conflict, prolongs existing conflict, or raises the number of violent events or casualties in the area. Furthermore, we explore certain conditions where provinces are most likely to experience substantively large decreases in conflict risk and intensity. Additional analyses examining night- time lights as a measure of development, coupled with expert interviews, support our claim. To address the possibility of selection bias, we use placebo tests and matching. Our research challenges assertions that refugees are security risks. Instead, we show that in many cases, hosting refugees can encourage local development and even conflict reduction.
Keywords: refugees, migration, conflict, subnational, road networks, GIS
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