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Diversity without adversity? Refugees’ efforts to integrate can partially offset identity-based biases


  • Anna Getmansky

    (London School of Economics and Political Science)

  • Konstantinos Matakos

    (King’s College London)

  • Tolga Sinmazdemir

    (SOAS University of London)


How can refugees overcome barriers to integration in the host country? Refugees often face economic, social, and political discrimination by the local population. Ethnicity, religion, and refugees' past involvement in political violence can further exacerbate these biases. We examine whether host country's citizens reduce anti-refugee attitudes if they know that refugees have made proactive effort to integrate by forging social ties with the locals and learning the local language. Unlike most of the previous studies, we examine a non-Western country-Turkey-that hosts the highest number of Syrian refugees (3.6 million). We field a conjoint survey experiment-a method previously applied to study migration attitudes in the West-to 2,362 respondents in Turkey, presenting them with profiles of Syrian refugees that vary by demographics, ethnicity, religion, and involvement in the Syrian civil war. Respondents rank each profile in order of support for social, economic and political integration. We find that although Turkey is a Muslim country hosting predominantly co-religious refugees, not all refugees are perceived equally. There is a significant bias against Arabs and Kurds compared to Turkomans, and against former pro-regime fighters. Although information on refugees' effort strengthens support for their integration, not all disadvantaged groups benefit equally from it. Such information has a more robust effect on boosting support for Kurdish refugees, and has a limited effect on support for integration of Arabs and former pro-regime fighters. Importantly, information on proactive effort also strengthens support for groups that experience less discrimination (Turkomans and non-fighters), thereby potentially exacerbating inequalities among the refugees.

Suggested Citation

  • Anna Getmansky & Konstantinos Matakos & Tolga Sinmazdemir, 2020. "Diversity without adversity? Refugees’ efforts to integrate can partially offset identity-based biases," Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC) Working Papers 16, Empirical Studies of Conflict Project.
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:esocpu:16

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    Turkey; Syria; Violence; Geography; Infrastructure; Political Development; Demographic/Socioeconomic;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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