Abstract: Residents of civil war countries must decide whether to stay or flee, often without reliable information about costs and benefits of fleeing. Using original survey data on Syrian refugees, I present evidence that residents solve this information problem by imitating the emigration decision of other residents. However, if everybody imitates others and nobody knows the true costs and benefits of fleeing, then there is a substantial chance that many make the wrong decision. The right decision, for example, is to flee when staying means death. Empirically, however, I find no relationship between survey respondents’ propensity to flee and objective measures of death risk in their origin location in Syria, which perhaps indicates that people make wrong emigration decisions. My findings suggest a new form of humanitarian aid in conflict zones: the distribution of information.
Christian Lehmann is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Brasilia.The presentation will be held on-site and may be followed online via live-stream. To receive further information and event details, please sign up here.