Seeking asylum in germany: Do human and social capital determine the outcome of asylum procedures?

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Although the Refugee Convention and European asylum legislation state that decisions regarding asylum applications should be determined solely based on persecution and other human rights violations, the outcomes of asylum procedures may be subject to socioeconomic selectivity. This article is the first to analyse whether the human and social capital of asylum-seekers affect the results of decisions regarding their asylum applications and the length of asylum procedures based on a comprehensive longitudinal survey of 5,300 refugees in Germany. We find that socioeconomic and social capital resources increase the probability of approval of asylum applications and reduce the length of asylum procedures. Moreover, human capital is particularly rewarding for asylum-seekers from countries subject to severe political and civil rights violations, whereas social networks are more conducive when the case for protection is rather difficult to prove. Finally, asylum-seekers with a higher socioeconomic status before migration seem to be better positioned to efficiently instrumentalize social networks during the asylum process. Throughout the analysis, we control for variables that capture the violation of human rights and other forms of violence, changes in asylum policies and country-of-origin-specific fixed effects. The results are robust to different specifications and are representative for asylum-seekers arriving in Germany between 2013 and 2016. Altogether, similar to other claim-making processes, the asylum process seems to promote social inequality due to socioeconomic and social capital resources.




Kosyakova, Y., & Brücker, H. (2020). Seeking asylum in germany: Do human and social capital determine the outcome of asylum procedures? European Sociological Review, 36(5), 663–683.

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