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Christopher BlairGuy GrossmanJeremy Weinstein

(2020). “Liberal Displacement Policies Attract Forced Migrants in the Global South.” Working Paper

Most forced migrants around the world are displaced within the Global South. We study whether and how de jure policies on forced displacement effect where the developing world forced migrants to flee. Recent evidence from the developed world suggests migrants gravitate toward liberal policy environments.

However, existing analyses presume de jure policies have little effect in the developing world, given strong presumptions that policy enforcement is poor and policy knowledge is low. Using original data on de jure displacement policies for 92 developing countries, we document a robust association between liberal de jure policies and forced migrant flows.

The gravitation toward liberal environments is conditional on factors that facilitate the diffusion of policy knowledge, such as transnational ethnic kin. Policies for free movement, services, and livelihoods are especially attractive. Utility-maximizing models of migrant decision-making must take de jure policy provisions into account.

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