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Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Policy in Europe

  • Timothy J. Hatton
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

The number of refugees worldwide is now 12 million, up from 3 million in the early 1970s. And the number seeking asylum in the developed world increased tenfold, from about 50,000 per annum to half a million over the same period. Governments and international agencies have grappled with the twin problems of providing adequate humanitarian assistance in the Third World and avoiding floods of unwanted asylum seekers arriving on the doorsteps of the First World. This is an issue that is long on rhetoric, as newspaper reports testify, but surprisingly short on economic analysis. This paper draws on the recent literature, and ongoing research, to address a series of questions that are relevant to the debate. First, we examine the causes of refugee displacements and asylum flows, focusing on the effects of conflict, political upheaval and economic incentives to migrate. Second, we examine the evolution of policies towards asylum seekers and the effects of those policies, particularly in Europe. Finally, we ask whether greater international coordination could produce better outcomes for refugee-receiving countries and for the refugees themselves.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10680.

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Date of creation: Aug 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as F. Foders and R. J. Langhammer (eds.), LABOR MOBILITY AND THE WORLD ECONOMY (Heidelberg, Germany: Springer, 2006
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10680
Note: DAE ITI LS
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  1. Kanbur, Ravi & Pottebaum, David, 2002. "Civil War, Public Goods and the Social Wealth of Nations," CEPR Discussion Papers 3124, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Rotte, Ralph & Vogler, Michael & Zimmermann, Klaus F, 1997. "South-North Refugee Migration: Lessons for Development Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1578, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2001. "Demographic and Economic Pressure on Emigration out of Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 250, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2003. "What Fundamentals Drive World Migration?," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  5. Jean-Paul Azam & Anke Hoeffler, 2002. "Violence Against Civilians in Civil Wars: Looting or Terror?," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 39(4), pages 461-485, July.
  6. Timothy J. Hatton, 2004. "Seeking asylum in Europe," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 19(38), pages 5-62, 04.
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