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Refugees, xenophobia, and domestic conflict: Evidence from a survey experiment in Turkey

Getmansky, A and Sınmazdemir, T and Zeitzoff, T (2018) 'Refugees, xenophobia, and domestic conflict: Evidence from a survey experiment in Turkey.' Journal of Peace Research, 55 (4). pp. 491-507. ISSN 0022-3433

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What factors influence attitudes towards refugees? Do negative attitudes towards refugees also influence attitudes towards conflict in the host countries? Previous studies suggest that an influx of refugees, and locals’ reaction to them, may destabilize receiving countries and lead to conflict. In particular, actual or perceived negative effects of refugees’ presence, such as increased economic competition with the locals, disruption of ethnic balance in the host country, and arrival of people with ties to rebel groups may lead to an increased likelihood of civil conflict in countries that receive refugees. These effects can lead to instability by changing the locals’ incentives and opportunities of engaging in violence. Indeed, some studies find a positive correlation at the cross-national level between influx of refugees and conflict in receiving countries. We contribute to this literature by experimentally manipulating information about the externalities of hosting refugees. We conducted a survey-experiment in the summer of 2014 in Turkey, a country that hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees. We examine how different messages about the possible effects of hosting refugees – increased economic burden, disruption of ethnic balance, and ties with rebels, as well as a positive message of saving innocent women and children – affect locals’ perceptions of the refugees and their attitudes towards the Turkish-Kurdish peace process. We find that some messages cause locals, especially majority non-Kurds, to hold more negative views of the refugees, and in some cases to view them as a threat. Generally speaking, this information does not affect support for the peace process within Turkey. Rather, fundamental factors, such as partisanship, and previous exposure to conflict are better predictors of attitudes towards peace.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: civil wars, conflict, refugees, survey experiment, Syria, Turkey
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 28 Mar 2018 16:14
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:48

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