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Applying behavioural science to refugee integration

From the book Responsibility for Refugee and Migrant Integration

  • Jet G. Sanders , Elizabeth Castle , Karen Tan and Rob Jenkins


Successful refugee and migrant integration has been shown to generate novel opportunities for development, and to enrich countries economically, socially, and culturally. Nonetheless, integration is one of the most complex issues of our time. Here we review this problem from a behavioural science perspective. Behavioural science brings together insights from psychology, behavioural economics, neuroscience, and sociology to devise and improve population-level interventions and to develop more effective policies. One approach in behavioural science is commonly referred to as ‘nudging’. Recently there has been a growing interest in nudge strategies among both practitioners and academics, in part because the strategies are cheap to implement. Here we provide an overview of such strategies and their applicability to refugee integration. By addressing two sectors of society where behavioural science is currently applied (education and employment), we examine how behavioural evidence may be used to bypass barriers and facilitate drivers of integration. Our review (i) reveals that few interventions aimed at refugee integration use a behavioural science approach, (ii) highlights areas in which this approach could be especially effective, and (iii) identifies some behavioural science techniques that may be counterproductive.

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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