Skip to main content

Who Should Pay for Refugees?

June 17, 2022
Lester Zeager and Richard Ericson


In analysis for Political Violence At A Glance, an IGCC-supported blog dedicated to political violence and its alternatives, Lester Zeager, professor emeritus of economics, and Richard Ericson, professor of economics, both at East Carolina University, propose their solution for fairly allocating responsibility for refugees among countries.

When a record number of Middle Eastern refugees made their way towards Europe in 2015, spurred on by the Syrian civil war and other armed conflicts in the region, the EU sought to distribute the refugees across countries, to alleviate the burden on certain countries like Greece and Italy, and spread the burden more widely. The effort foundered. Numerous countries opposed the proposal on the grounds that they were being assigned an unfair number of refugees.

Humanitarian crises often impose large costs on countries not otherwise involved in the situation. Many of the costs arise from a desire to help alleviate the suffering of those impacted by the crisis, such as refugees fleeing persecution and mortal danger. Collective action by states is required to share the responsibility, but it is difficult to maintain, in large part because countries fear they will be stuck with more than their fair share of the burden.

Who should care for refugees?

Read the full blog post at Political Violence At A Glance.