Refugees and Environmental Degradation in Africa

Jean-Francois Maystadt, Lancaster University
Valerie Mueller , Arizona State University
Stijn van Weezel, University College Dublin

Refugees are often accused of leaving a severe ecological footprint in receiving areas. The aim of this study is to empirically examine the short- and long-run environmental implications of refugees in Africa, and the mechanisms underlying these potential effects. We combine geo-referenced refugee data with gridded data on the Enhanced Vegetation Index to test the role of camps in degrading the environment in Africa between 2000 and 2016. Our identification strategy relies on the use of an instrumental variables approach to account for the selection of refugees into poorly degraded areas, conditioning on both pixel and year fixed effects. Inferences are based on Conley standard errors to account for spatial autocorrelation. Preliminary evidence suggests refugees do not pose an environmental burden in the short or long run, according to OLS and 2SLS results.

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 Presented in Session 73. Demographic Dynamics, Environment and Development