refugees; asylum-seekers; policy evaluation; asylum policy; immigration; immigrant integration
Martén Linna, Hainmueller Jens, Hangartner Dominik (2019), Ethnic networks can foster the economic integration of refugees, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
, 116(33), 16280-16285.
Marbach Moritz, Hainmueller Jens, Hangartner Dominik (2018), The long-term impact of employment bans on the economic integration of refugees, in Science Advances
, 4(9), eaap9519-eaap9519.
Bansak Kirk, Ferwerda Jeremy, Hainmueller Jens, Dillon Andrea, Hangartner Dominik, Lawrence Duncan, Weinstein Jeremy (2018), Improving refugee integration through data-driven algorithmic assignment, in Science
, 359(6373), 325-329.
Hainmueller Jens, Hangartner Dominik, Lawrence Duncan (2016), When lives are put on hold: Lengthy asylum processes decrease employment among refugees, in Science Advances
, 2(8), e1600432-e1600432.
Switzerland, like the rest of Europe, faces a growing and urgent refugee crisis. As more and more people flee to Europe, the refugee receiving countries are faced with a fundamental challenge: how best to integrate the massive number of asylum seekers who have been or will be granted some form of refugee status and often remain in the country for good. Although European countries will not be able to stop the wave of refugees, they can develop and implement policies that facilitate their rapid and effective integration. Because researchers have not systematically studied the causal impacts of asylum and refugee policies on refugee integration, we know distressingly little about what works and what does not when it comes to enhancing the integration of refugees through better policies. Subsequently, policymakers across Europe have no concrete evidence to make informed decisions about redesigning the asylum process.Our proposed research will start addressing this gap and provide the first comprehensive assessment of how key policy parameters of the asylum process affect the integration of asylum seekers who have been granted some form of refugee or refugee-like status in Switzerland. We will investigate the impact of wait times, regulations while waiting (e.g., labor market restrictions and welfare support) and the impact of targeted cantonal refugee integration programs. By merging high quality register panel data from different administrative sources and applying various quasi-experimental research designs, we are able to quantify the short and long-term causal effects of these core policies on a wide range of important integration outcomes including unemployment, income, permanent residency permits, intermarriage, and naturalization and also assess how the effects of these policy parameters vary across different groups of refugees.We have conducted an extensive pilot study on asylum decision wait times which underscores the feasibility of our approach and demonstrates that even small administrative changes to reduce the wait times of the asylum decision can have a significant impact on improving the economic integration of refugees with temporary protection, and as a result reduce the fiscal burden on government and ultimately taxpayers. Building off this preliminary research, we can generate actionable knowledge regarding the asylum process using an economical and robust research approach that will help place Switzerland at the forefront of asylum and refugee research, and position Switzerland to most effectively respond to the refugee crisis by understanding the policy conditions which help or hurt refugees to become integrated and productive members of the Swiss community. The lessons from the Swiss case will provide invaluable insights into the impact of the asylum process that will be informative for policymakers across Europe.Importantly, this research project is shovel-ready. Our research team has the scientific track record, methodological skills, and substantive expertise to unearth the causal effect of asylum procedures from the comprehensive and high quality Swiss register data, we have secured the official support of the State Secretariat for Migration to assure efficient and ethical collection of this administrative data, and all we lack is the financial support of the Swiss National Science Foundation to implement this innovative and timely research. We are confident that the policy implications of our findings have immediate and practical impact on the (re-)design of asylum policies in Switzerland and Europe more generally.