April 2023

IZA DP No. 16085: The Determinants of Refugees' Destinations: Where Do Refugees Locate within the EU?

The recent so called Mediterranean refugee crisis has ignited concerns about the magnitude of the flows of asylum seekers to Europe. This paper examines the determinants of the destination choice of first time non-EU asylum applicants to the EU, between 2008-2020. It investigates the role played by policies related to employment rights, processing of asylum applications, attractiveness of the welfare system, economic factors and networks on the destination of asylum seekers within the EU. We find that the strongest pull factor for asylum seekers to a destination is social networks both in terms of previous asylum applicants as well as stock of previous migrants. Our findings also suggest that employment bans are not a strong deterrence for asylum seekers given their modest association to asylum flows.