Refugees and their Economic Impact

By Irene Cho



With crop struggles, water scarcity, and overall less resources threatening livelihoods and already displacing twenty million people from their homes, the best solution to ensure that there will be no refugee crisis caused by climate change in the future is to persuade more countries to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention. This treaty states, among other things, that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face threats to their life or freedom—such as those caused by climate change.


Most citizens think of taking in refugees as a financial burden, but it benefits countries monetarily in the long run. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from 1990 to 2014 showed, “after refugees have been in the U.S. for 20 years, they’ve paid an average of $21,000 more in taxes…pointing to an overall economic gain associated with refugee resettlement” (Burke). This implies that refugees do not stress the economy, rather they bolster it. We can persuade more countries to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention by proving to them that welcoming refugees positively impacts host countries economically.


That being said, it is hard for many refugees to receive protection from countries that did not sign the 1951 Refugee Convention. In the case of the Rohingya Crisis, more than 700,000 Rohingyas sought refuge in Bangladesh. Distressingly, Bangladesh is one of the forty-four countries that did not sign the 1951 Refugee Convention. This makes it so that around “…200,000 unregistered people…from Myanmar live in Bangladesh without any legal status…” (UNHCR). This situation works counter to Bangladesh’s interests because being unregistered in a country makes it harder for refugees to contribute to the economy.


In the case of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees in Turkey, their situation was preferable because everyone was protected under the 1951 Refugee Convention. According to the World

Bank document on Turkey’s Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis and the Road Ahead, “Experience shows that when refugees are supported in becoming socially and economically self-reliant, and given freedom of movement and protection, they are more likely to contribute economically to their host country” (World Bank). This further proves refugees can reap benefits instead of being a detriment to their host country.


By convincing more countries to sign the 1951 Refugee Convention, the global community can ensure the safety of the refugees and maximize economic gains for those countries generous and brave enough to welcome climate refugees into their borders.


 

Works Cited


ICMC International Catholic Migration Commission. ICMC, 14 July 2020, Accessed 28 June 2022.

www.icmc.net/2020/07/14/refugees-good-or-bad-for-economy/.


UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency. USA for UNHCR, 14 Feb. 2011, Accessed 28 June 2022.

www.unhcr.org/en-us/3b66c2aa10.


UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency. USA for UNHCR, 5 Feb. 2021, Accessed 28 June 2022.

www.unrefugees.org/news/syria-refugee-crisis-explained/


UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency. USA for UNHCR, Accessed 28 June 2022.

www.unhcr.org/tr/en/refugees-and-asylum seekers-in-turkey.


UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency. USA for UNHCR, 25 Aug. 2021, Accessed 28 June 2022

https://www.unrefugees.org/news/rohingya-refugee-crisis-

explained/#:~:text=Approximately%20370%2C000%20people%20were%20internally,in

UNHCR the UN Refugee Agency. USA for UNHCR, Accessed 28 June 2022.

www.unhcr.org/en-my/4ec231060.pdf


The World Bank. The World Bank Group, Dec. 2015, Accessed 28 June 2022.

https://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/583841468185391586/pdf/102184-WP-

P151079-Box394822B-PUBLIC-FINAL-TurkeysResponseToSyrianRefugees-eng-12-17-15.pdf