Public Policy

Do Asylum-seekers Respond to Policy Changes? Evidence from the Swedish-Syrian Case

Henrik Andersson Department of Government - Uppsala University, Sweden
Kristoffer Jutvik Institute for Housing and Urban Research - Uppsala University, Sweden
This paper uses quasi-experimental evidence to understand how changes in asylum policy affect the number of asylum-seekers. We look specifically at a sudden, regulatory change in the Swedish reception of Syrian asylum-seekers. The change took place in September 2013 and implied that all Syrian asylum-seekers would be granted permanent instead of temporary residence permits. Using high-frequency data and an interrupted time-series set-up, we study the extent to which this change caused more Syrian citizens to apply for asylum in Sweden. The paper provides several new insights: Our estimates show a clear increase in the number of asylum applications in Sweden after the policy change. The increase had implications for the distribution of Syrian asylum-seekers in Europe, but only in the short term. Also, the change caused a shift in the share of adult men arriving without a household member, and consequently in the share of refugees applying for family reunification.