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May 7, 2023

Economic Impacts of Migration and Refugee Crises

Economic Impacts of Migration and Refugee Crises. Every day, people make the painful decision to leave their homes and countries in search of safer places to live. They do so for a wide range of reasons, including conflict, violence, human rights violations and extreme poverty.

According to the UN, 84 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced in mid-2021. This number is expected to grow.


The world is seeing more and more refugees fleeing war and persecution to seek safety. Amidst desperate times, compelled by dire circumstances, they relinquish all they own, their livelihoods, and their very essence.

Economic Impacts of Migration and Refugee Crises. Across the world, people on the move are suffering as they go through arduous journeys and struggle to find decent living conditions. Confronted by health hurdles, their path to adequate medical care is obstructed by severe limitations and scarcity.

Nearly a third of the world’s refugees, trapped in destitution, struggle to afford their daily needs, leaving them vulnerable to malnutrition, health issues, exploitation, and violence.

Host governments grapple with a flood of refugees and their trials, yet possess transformative potential to address the crisis and uphold fundamental rights.


As refugee crises continue to escalate worldwide, governments and other stakeholders struggle to make sense of the complex reality. They seek to understand the economic impacts of migration and refugee crises.

Migration and refugee crises usually have limited economic effects compared to the magnitude of forced migrant influxes. Yet, in specific host countries facing substantial arrivals relative to their population, job mismatches, social tensions, and an unfavorable investment climate can impede growth.

Economic shocks can strain public services and adversely affect public finances, as poorer host communities face limited capacity to handle immigrant influxes compared to advanced economies.


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Every day, people flee conflict and violence in their home countries to seek safety elsewhere. These are among the world’s largest and most pressing humanitarian crises today.

Migration and refugee crises impact the social fabric of host communities in many ways. They have a profound effect on public services, on the fiscal balance and on political stability.

Forced migrants also pose economic challenges, including a job market mismatch problem. Typically joining the informal sector, they toil under perilous conditions, earning meager wages and enduring repression, compounding their vulnerability.

Entering the informal sector, they often toil for meager pay or in hazardous and oppressive environments, amplifying their vulnerability. This puts them at risk of child marriage and sexual abuse. Managing this complex and highly intertwined challenge requires a multi-stakeholder approach. In particular, the United Nations and its Member States need to ensure that they share responsibility for the management of large movements of refugees and displaced persons.


The political effects of migration and refugee crises can be complex. They can affect states, economies and societies at every level, and impose substantial costs on host countries.

One of the most dramatic cases was Haiti, where a US/UN military and police presence accompanied refugees on perilous journeys across the Caribbean. This response, along with a number of other human rights violations, helped fuel the anti-refugee mood that continues to spread in North America and Europe today.

A new wave of scholars studying the consequences of refugee and migrant crises shows how massive population movements are changing core aspects of state sovereignty. In the ever-shifting landscape, the borders between Jordan and Syria undergo a subtle transformation, challenging conventional filtration of migratory flows, while the responsibility of refugee assistance is delegated to external entities. This poses significant questions about the concept of state and the relationship between sovereignty and non-state actors. The authors of these papers show how this shift is affecting politics and societies at all levels.

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