How do we measure impacts of refugees and IDPs on host countries and host communities?

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Nearly 60 million persons were forcibly displaced worldwide due to conflict and persecution at the end of 2014—the highest number since World War II. Forced displacement is not only a humanitarian issue, but also has important economic, social, political, and environmental impacts on the places of origin and destination. The development impacts of forced displacement, however, remain poorly understood. There is very limited work to date on the socioeconomic impact of refugees on host and regional economies. Social scientists have largely neglected these important policy and conceptual challenges, in contrast to the countless qualitative studies on refugee livelihoods. As the number of protracted displacement situations is increasing, the lack of rigorous impact assessments is a major gap that needs to be filled. Recently, a number of calls for proposals on the topic have been issued and case studies have been undertaken by the World Bank, UNHCR, independent researchers, and other actors. Efforts have also been made to develop a coherent methodology on how to measure the impacts of forced displacement.

Against this background, the Thematic Working Group on Forced Migration of the World Bank’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD), Oxford University’s Refugee Studies Centre, the Solutions Alliance, and UNHCR joined forces to organize a workshop on topic. The workshop’s objective was to bring together a diverse group of leading researchers in this field to start a conversation on identifying a set of methods to assess impacts and increase the rigor of the assessments being conducted. A focus was on quantitative methods and on socioeconomic impacts of refugees in protracted situations on host communities.

More specifically, in eight sessions the following aspects were discussed:

  1. Key questions from a development policy perspective

  2. Data collection methods (surveys, qualitative methods, and secondary data)

  3. Data analysis methods for different areas of impact (labor markets, prices, welfare, infrastructure, health, and education)

  4. Differences and similarities between forced displacement and migration

  5. Comprehensive assessments of impacts

  6. Recommendations and next steps.

A summary of the workshop results as well as the presentations and questionnaires with participants’ descriptions of their related work are available here.

Authors

Kirsten Schuettler

Senior Program Officer, Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice, World Bank

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