Voluntary return of refugees: policies and incentives

What is the aim of the research?

The number of asylum applications in the EU increased drastically in 2015, as individuals escaped civil war and persecution. However, not everyone is given asylum, and between 2015-2018 around 700 000 asylum applications have received a final refusal decision in the EU, while many are still in the appealing phase. 

Although dismissed applicants are legally required to return to their home countries, not everyone returns voluntarily, and instead choose to go underground or face deportation. Programs for deportation are costly, politically sensitive, and have been criticized on humanitarian grounds. As a response,  countries have introduced return programs, aiming to increase the share of voluntary returns, and thereby providing a cost efficient and more considerate return. Yet, the efficiency of such programs have not been evaluated.

Using quasi-experimental evidence, we will provide the first quantitative evaluations  of return programs by studying the two Swedish programs; financial support and reintegration support. Using individual administrative data from the Swedish Migration Agency we will examine if the share of voluntary returns, appeals, and the time from dismissal to return is affected by these programs. This will provide much needed guidance to policy makers aiming to increase the number of rejected asylum applicants who returns.

Research team

Kristoffer Jutvik

Henrik Andersson

Linna Martén