Why do states contribute to the global refugee governance ? Fiscal burden-sharing in the post-2...


Why are some states motivated to contribute financially to international efforts to protect refugees and assist host countries? Despite general agreement on the need for burden-sharing in global refugee governance, research up to now has not explained the underlying motivations behind the provision of financial assistance tied to the international protection of refugees. In addressing this gap, this article offers two competing perspectives of the potential impact of refugee migration on the decisions by individual states concerning whether and how much they contribute to a given refugee crisis. The article further hypothesizes that the connection between refugee migration and states’ financial contribution depends on the geographic context. The proposed hypotheses are tested using the cross-country panel data on humanitarian assistance to the post-2011 Syrian refugee crisis, and the test confirms that states receiving a more significant number of refugees have a greater incentive to offer a financial contribution. However, this explanation only holds for contributing states remote from Syria. Conversely, states in the geographical proximity of Syria likely have fewer interests to take on a financial burden to support Syrian refugees staying outside of their territories. These findings provide several important insights into the broader policy of refugee governance and into academic debates on the sharing of financial burdens to protect refugees.