This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Refugee Adaptation Depends in Part on Their Neighbors

In my view, the single biggest concern that host societies have about incoming refugees is: How will they adapt to the new society? Will they eventually integrate and fit in, or will they stay in an ethnic neighborhood that essentially preserves the old culture and protects them from the new one. How much should governmental influence these decisions? A new infographic from Population Europe highlights research that puts an interesting spin on this issue, based on Sweden's experiences with Turkish and Iranian immigrants. In a paper accepted for publication in Population, Space, and Place, the authors use a longitudinal database to track resettlement patterns. They find that the region of origin (the place within a country) is more important in resettlement decisions that is the country per se.
Imagine Kurds from Turkey or Iran who thanks to home-country conflicts prefer to live alongside other Kurds but not Turks or Persians. Thus, ethnic conflicts in the sending country may manifest themselves in immigrants’ residential choices in the host country. Whether or not to encourage relocation, the drivers of post-migration residence decisions are key to good asylum policies. Otherwise, carefully crafted common asylum systems could be swiftly undermined.
In other words, ethnic differences are at play not only in the residential preferences and adaptation of immigrants to the host society, but also in the way that immigrants themselves behave toward each other in the host society. 

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