Global Platform of International Public Policies

Proposal Submission

When Countries Expand Refugee Protection: Democratisation, Emigration and Policy Diffusion in Latin America

Paper abstract

What drove the countries of an entire region to significantly expand refugee protection at the dawn of the 21st century? In this paper we take a mixed methodological approach to explaining the legislative liberalisation of refugee protection across Latin America. First, we use newly codified data from the APLA database to show policy convergence towards liberalisation across the region; applying 57 different indicators on policy measures from 19 Latin American countries for a 29-years period. Building a series of nested OLS and country-fixed effect regressions, we then use the same data set to test conventional and region-specific determinants of policy convergence and liberalisation identified by the literature. In a third step we build on 175 in-depth elite interviews to shed light on the causal mechanisms behind these correlations, thus lending causal validity to our previous empirical findings. We find that conventional explanations such as migration and refugee stocks, the state of the economy and regional integration do not hold, whereas democratisation, government ideology and emigration are key to explaining legislative convergence towards liberalisation across the region. The paper thus makes an important contribution towards understanding the determinants of refugee policies outside of Western receiving states.

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