Objective and subjective relative deprivation among Congolese refugees and Rwandan locals: The compensating effect of financial contributions


Dr. Özge Bilgili, Utrecht University

Economic relative deprivation is increasingly recognized as an indication of economic well-being, also among refugees. This study simultaneously examines the objective and subjective relative deprivation of Congolese refugees compared to their Rwandan hosts. We expect that refugees initially experience more deprivation than locals due to their lower social status and economic instabilities inside and outside the camps. However, we also take into account the fact that there may be mechanisms that alleviate the effects of being a refugee on economic relative deprivation. We specifically focus on financial aid provided by governments and NGO’s and remittances sent by relatives left behind. The analysis is conducted using unique data that has recently been collected with a UNHCR funded research project. We find that refugee households indeed initially experience more objective and subjective relative deprivation than local households, but that this association is to a great extent suppressed by financial contributions they receive. The results show that especially financial aid can compensate for relative deprivation. Furthermore, there is evidence that local households are more often exceptionally deprived than refugee households, when more rigid measurements of objective relative deprivation are used. We conclude that in order to promote economic well-being among the whole population, financial and development assistance that not only benefits refugees, but also targets the most marginalized locals may be warranted.

This paper is co-authored with Hester Warnaar, MSc. (Utrecht University)



About the speaker

Özge Bilgili is an assistant professor of interdisciplinary social science within the European Research Centre on Migration and Ethnic Relations at Utrecht University, the chair of the Dutch Association for Migration Research (DAMR), and a nominated member of Utrecht Young Academy. She is also an affiliated researcher at Maastricht Graduate School of Governance & United Nations University MERIT. Her expertise is on immigrant integration, transnationalism, and policy analysis in related areas.



Venue: https://maastrichtuniversity.zoom.us/j/96093921502

Date: 13 January 2021

Time: 15:00 - 16:00


UNU-MERIT