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03 February 2023

Greater role for locals 'could reduce opposition to hosting refugees'

Opposition to hosting refugees at a regional level could be reduced by ensuring a greater role for local politicians and elected officials, according to a new study.


Researchers found that hostility aimed at refugees and resettlement facilities could be addressed if communities and local leaders were granted more control over the design and implementation of the process.

Giving communities a greater say over the location of hosting sites, retaining control of the sites in government hands, and investment in public goods were also important factors in reducing opposition among elected official locally.

The findings were revealed in a new paper co-authored by Dr Konstantinos Matakos, from the Department of Political Economy at King’s College London; Dr Kristin Fabbe (Harvard Business School); Dr Eleni Kyrkopoulou (Athens University); and former King’s PhD candidate, Dr Asli Unan (Humboldt University of Berlin).

The researchers said: “Our work points to the fact that much of the opposition to hosting refugees can be addressed, despite lack of control over refugees' identity characteristics, if local communities and their leaders regain some say over the design and implementation of the process.

“This is a wholly new insight that suggests a possible refocusing of public policies from trying to alter locals' attitudes - which is costly and must be long-run - to engaging elected stakeholders in the design and implementation of the resettlement process.”

Data for the study was gathered from survey work with almost 600 elected officials in Greece, a nation that has been at the forefront of migratory flows into Europe since 2015.

The research, Control and Fairness: What determines elected local leaders' support for hosting refugees in their community?, has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Politics.


You can read it in full here.

In this story

Prof Konstantinos Matakos

Professor of Economics