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This paper explores a variety of approaches used to assess and measure the economic impact of refugees on their host communities and states. It identifies theoretical, methodological, and ethical gaps in the existing literature, and also problematizes some of the assumptions and rationales behind current debates about measuring refugees’ economic impact on host populations and states. It begins by presenting the key arguments and approaches within the existing literature on analysing the economic impact of refugees on their host communities and states. It then seeks to elucidate some significant conceptual, methodological and ethical gaps in the field, drawing primarily upon cost-benefit analyses in the migration literature in order to identify several cautionary implications. Finally, as a way forward, the paper highlights some alternative approaches to understanding and assessing the impact of hosting refugees.



Working paper


Refugee Studies Centre

Publication Date



RSC Working Paper Series, 111

Total pages