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Asylum Determination within the European Union (EU): Whether Capacity and Social Constraints Impact the Likelihood of Refugee Status Determination

By Louden Paul Richason

This paper analyzes whether capacity and social constraints impact acceptance rates for asylum seekers in the European Union from 2000-2016. Theoretically people should receive asylum based on the criteria outlined in international law – a well founded fear of persecution – but the influx and distribution of applicants in the European Union suggests that this may not hold in practice. For a group of pre identified “legitimate” asylum cases, this paper finds that surges in applications in a country (i.e. capacity constraints) have a positive and statistically significant correlation with acceptance rates, while the percentage of migrants in a country (i.e.  social constraints) has a negative and statistically significant correlation with acceptance rates. This suggests that the burden of proof becomes easier during a surge in total applications in a country. However, as the international migrant stock in that country increases, it is more difficult for that same group of applicants to receive asylum.

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Advisors: Professor Suzanne Shanahan, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D73, D78, F22, H12, J11, J15, K37, O52

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