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The dynamics of refugee return: Syrian refugees and their migration intentions

Alrababah, Ala, Masterson, Daniel, Casalis, Marine and Hangartner, Dominik (2023) The dynamics of refugee return: Syrian refugees and their migration intentions. British Journal of Political Science, 53 (4). pp. 1108-1131. ISSN 0007-1234

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0007123422000667


We study the drivers of refugees' decision making about returning home using observational and experimental data from a survey of 3,003 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. We find that the conditions in refugee-hosting countries play a minor role. In contrast, conditions in a refugee's home country are the main drivers of return intentions. Even in the face of hostility and poor living conditions in host countries, refugees are unlikely to return unless the situation at home improves significantly. These results challenge traditional models of decision making about migration, where refugees weigh living conditions in the host and home countries (“push” and “pull” factors). We offer an alternative theoretical framework: a model of threshold-based decision making whereby only once a basic threshold of safety at home is met do refugees compare other factors in the host and home country. We explore some empirical implications of this new perspective using qualitative interviews and quantitative survey data.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2023 12:21
Last Modified: 19 May 2024 02:21

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