Refugees and Social Capital: Evidence from Northern Lebanon
Abstract: Using data gathered in Northern Lebanon, we analyze the social impact of refugee settlement on the host country. Despite concerns that refugee settlements may result in intensified ethnic conflict and a decrease in out- group social capital, we find that exposure to refugees has a positive impact on native’s reported measures of trust and prosocial preferences toward refugees. Moreover, exposure to recent refugees has a positive spillover effect on other migrant groups: we find that Lebanese natives with a greater degree of exposure to Syrian refugees report higher levels of trust towards Palestinian refugees. Lastly, we show that Lebanese respondents primed to think about the impact of refugees on Lebanon report lower levels of trust towards refugees. However, this effect is driven entirely by respondents with low exposure to refugees, suggesting the exposure also makes individuals robust to responding negatively to the social discourse of the refugee crisis.