Sascha O. Becker, 08 April 2022

Syria, Venezuela, Ukraine: forced migration is constantly in the news, but these events have been happening for hundreds of years. Sascha Becker tells Tim Phillips about new research that is discovering the economic impact of mass displacement in history, both on refugees and on communities – and the lessons we can learn from the past.

Sascha O. Becker, 29 March 2022

Millions of people have fled Ukraine as a result of Russia’s invasion in February 2022. This column argues that the massive refugee flow requires a united response from European countries, including the UK. Beyond providing shelter and food, it emphasises the importance of access to education for refugees. Episodes of forced migration following WWII underscore the importance of human capital accumulation. Ultimately, providing timely access to education can be a silver lining of forced migration, allowing refugees to invest in a brighter future. 

Sascha O. Becker, 01 November 2021

Education is one of the few valuable assets that cannot easily be removed from you and that can travel with you if you are a victim of forced migration.
In a video recorded at 2020's AEA conference, Sascha Becker (Warwick University & CEPR) explains how data around the changes to Polish borders following WWII confirms a hypothesis that people who have suddenly lost everything through forced migration place a higher value on education for them and their children, once relocated. The policy implications are clear: governments should ensure that migrants who arrive following forced relocation are given quick and effective access to education for their children as this will benefit both them and their host country.

Gerhard Toews, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 23 September 2021

‘Enemies of the people’ were the millions of artists, engineers, managers, or professors who were thought to be a threat to the Soviet regime solely for being the educated elite. Along with millions of non-political prisoners, they were forcedly resettled to the Gulag, the system of labour camps across the Soviet Union. This column looks at the long-run consequences of this dark resettlement episode. It shows that areas around camps with a larger share of enemies of the people among camp prisoners are more prosperous today, as captured by firms’ wages and profits, as well as night lights per capita. 

Sascha O. Becker, Irena Grosfeld, Pauline Grosjean, Nico Voigtländer, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 28 January 2020

Can the experience of being uprooted by force encourage people to invest in portable assets such as education? The idea has a long history but is a difficult hypothesis to test. This column combines data from historical censuses with newly collected survey data to show that Polish people with a family history of forced migration as a result of WWII are significantly more educated today than any comparison group. The results suggest a shift in preferences toward investment in human rather than physical capital, and imply that the benefits of providing schooling for forced migrants and their children may be even greater – and more persistent – than previously thought.

, 14 December 2016

Migration is a mechanism through which crises can be spread out globally. In this video, Andrés Solimano discusses the impact of mass forced migration for recipient countries. This video was recorded at the UNU-WIDER Development Conference in September 2016.

Thomas Bauer, Sebastian Braun, Michael Kvasnicka, 24 February 2014

The economic literature has paid scarce attention to the tens of millions of people who are displaced by conflict or forcibly relocated. This column analyses outcomes for 12 million Germans relocated from central and eastern Europe following the second world war. Labour-market outcomes were generally negative, but positive for women relocated from rural areas. Interestingly, children of migrants made greater educational investments than their native counterparts.


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