Are Asylum Seekers from Conflict-Affected Countries to Europe Economic Migrants?

Tomoya Suzuki , Kansai University

The number of asylum seekers in Europe began increasing rapidly in the early 2010s, with the annual increase being significantly high in 2015. According to the asylum statistics of the European Commission, the number of first-time applicants for asylum in the European Union (EU) exceeded 1.2 million in 2015. Not surprisingly, many asylum applicants were from conflict-affected countries. Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi applicants accounted for the top three citizenships of first-time asylum applicants in the EU during the second quarter of 2018. This study investigates the driving forces of asylum seekers by using data on the number of asylum applicants in European countries from conflict-affected countries. To achieve this purpose, a gravity model of migration was employed. A major finding is that difference in the level of per capita income between two countries do not significantly influence the net flows of asylum seekers between the countries. By contrast, asylum seekers are significantly attracted to countries in which thrift and efforts in education are encouraged as a way to prepare for the future. And, the ratio of government expenditures on tertiary education to gross domestic product in a host country also significantly increases the net inflows of asylum seekers to the country. Thus, the conclusion is that asylum seekers do not come to European countries not because the levels of per capita income in the countries are high, but because the countries allow the new comers to prepare for the future through opportunities to receive tertiary education.

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 Presented in Session 78. Flash Session Migration and Migrants