People are always the ones who suffer the most in war, especially this time in Syria. Half of the country’s population has been displaced and 4 million people have fled as refugees to neighboring countries since the country’s civil war began in 2011. The majority have ended up in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, and new refugees are now seeking “new homes” in Germany and Hungary. Some countries refuse to take refugees because they are considered liabilities for an economy. But some others, such as Germany, take refugees in as opportunities for economic growth.
Some countries argue that refugees usually take advantage of public services before contributing to the economy. On average, a country has to spend about $119,000 per asylum seeker each year, and it usually takes years to settle one refugee. This means that host countries' taxpayers are left to pay the hefty toll. Additionally, countries fear that refugees could take jobs from locals and raise the unemployment rate. Refugees usually start with low-skilled jobs in the host country because of language barriers, and then move to more advanced positions as they become acclimated to the new country's culture. Considering costs and efficiency, companies are more willing to employ refugees, and therefore the locals lose in the job market.
However, some countries think that refugees could bring economic gain in the long run. Let’s take Germany as an example, as it is the only European country in this refugee crisis willing to accept refugees. Germany is now facing the serious demographic issues of an aging and shrinking population. The country relies on immigrants to fill the working age population and to stabilize the state pension system as more Germans retire. Even without a worker shortage, refugees are not burdens because they play an important role in creating new jobs. Studies have shown that refugees are more likely than other groups to open small businesses because they are less likely to have a job waiting for them in the host country, compared to other immigrants moving to countries where they already have job offers.
The impact of refugees on their host country really depends on how the country deals with them. Researchers think that refugees have a better impact on the local economy if they are allowed to work before their cases are settled, which often takes a long time. The reason is intuitive, as the refugees could create economic value by working, and the money they earn from the jobs could alleviate the economic burden of the host country.