Economic Impact of Refugees on Host Communities: Social Networks, Economic Vulnerability, and Resilience Among Urban Refugees in Kenya, Turkey, and Pakistan

There is a growing trend of refugee populations settling in urban areas rather than rural camp settings. Crowded urban environments can hinder refugees’ efforts to acquire basic needs and livelihoods. With support from the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Migration and Refugees, the Urban Institute is carrying out research exploring the varying roles of social capital and social networks in refugees’ efforts to become self-reliant and reduce dependence on humanitarian aid. This project also seeks to shift preconceptions of the “refugee burden” felt by host communities and governments who already face economic shortfalls. Previous research suggests that self-reliant refugees can in fact benefit their host economy through the increased labor supply and public investments, including donor funding. The study will be conducted in three urban locations chosen for their similar refugee burdens and cultural heterogeneity yet varying degrees of human development: Nairobi, Kenya; Gaziantep, Turkey; and Peshawar, Pakistan.

The main objectives of the study include:

  • Ascertaining how the relative strength of social network ties contributes to the self-reliance and the socio-economic well-being of urban refugees;
  • Exploring specific ways in which social networks within the refugees’ host country or country or origin affect refugees’ access to social capital and, if they do, what types of social networks have positive or negative effects on self-reliance; and
  • Conducting a literature review of existing studies on the importance of social capital and social networks in urban refugee settings, as well as the economic impact of refugees on their host country.

Funder Information

US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration

Period of Performance

December 2015 – In Progress

Related Pages

US Department of State's PRM Project Summary