FY 15: Economic Impact of Refugees on Host Communities: Social Networks, Economic Vulnerability, and Resilience Among Urban Refugees in Kenya, Turkey, and Pakistan (Urban Institute)

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
December 14, 2015

This research is ongoing. The final reports will be posted upon completion.


There is a growing trend of refugee populations settling in urban areas rather than rural camp settings. Crowded urban environments can hinder refugees’ efforts to acquire basic needs and livelihoods. The Urban Institute will carry out PRM-funded research exploring the roles of social capital and social networks in refugees’ efforts to become self-reliant and reduce dependence on humanitarian aid. This project also seeks to shift preconceptions of the “refugee burden” felt by host communities and governments who already face economic shortfalls. Research suggests that self-reliant refugees can in fact benefit their host economy through the increased labor supply and public investments, including donor funding. The study will be conducted in three urban locations chosen for their similar refugee burdens and cultural heterogeneity yet varying degrees of human development: Nairobi, Kenya; Gaziantep, Turkey; and Peshawar, Pakistan.


  • Ascertain how the relative strength of social network ties contributes to the self-reliance and the socio-economic well-being of urban refugees;
  • Explore specific ways in which social networks within the refugees’ host country or country or origin affect refugees’ access to social capital and, if they do, what types of social networks have positive or negative effects on self-reliance;
  • Conduct a literature review of existing studies on the importance of social capital and social networks in urban refugee settings, as well as the economic impact of refugees on their host country.