Elin Wiklund

Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Assistant Professor Seth Jolly

Honors Reader

Assistant Professor Jonathan Hanson

Capstone Major

International Relations

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies | Other International and Area Studies


Each year, hundreds of thousands of individuals become asylum applicants as they request protection from persecution in a state other than their own. While many of these persons requesting to be recognized as refugees lodge their claims in neighbouring states, since the 1980s, Europe has seen an increasing number of asylum seekers arriving from developing nations in Africa and Asia. This has contributed to concerns among populations in Western Europe regarding immigrants and the emergence of political parties with anti-immigration discourses. As a result, immigration and asylum policies today are issues high on the political agenda as governments attempt to control the number of asylum applications they receive.

This thesis addresses the question of to what extent governments can influence the number of asylum applications they receive. Building on previous studies examining which factors influence asylum seekers’ destination choice I argue that strict asylum policies can act as a deterrent for asylum applicants. Using time series cross sectional data for 16 OECD states 1997 through 2006, taking into account variables of economic attractiveness, colonial ties, network effects, hostility toward foreigners and asylum policy changes I found colonial ties and asylum policy changes to be the most important determinants for where asylum seekers lodge their claim. Two case studies examining the effect of asylum policy changes on the number of asylum applications lodged in Denmark and Sweden also support these findings. However, they also demonstrate the limits on asylum policy as an instrument for controlling the number of applications received as external events generating refugee flows can increase the number of asylum seekers despite stricter policies.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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