At the end of 2022, 108.4 million people were forcibly displaced due to conflict or natural disasters. Many of them are not hosted in camps but are accommodated by fellow citizens who welcome them into their communities and homes. I study the determinants of such helping behaviour.

In one paper we ask what motivates people to host the displaced. We collected survey data from 1,504 households in the DR Congo, fielded in-depth interviews, and implemented an experiment. We employ a novel strategy to measure hosting behaviour, where household characteristics are measured prior to the arrival of displaced persons. We find that households with higher empathy are more likely to host in the ten-month period following the survey. There is no evidence that ethnicity, religiosity or wealth affect hosting behavior. 

Categorised answers to open question “Why did you decide to host this IDP family?”. Details in forthcoming paper.

In an ongoing project we focus on the recent influx of Ukrainian refugees in Poland. We conducted a nationally representative survey with 2,500 Polish respondents and ask about previous and future helping of both Syrian and Ukrainian refugees. Through a combination of survey questions, a survey experiment, and a conjoint experiment, we study which factors explain the level of assistance provided and how refugees’ characteristics influence helping behavior.

The question of who gets hosted and who does not, is an important one and may differ across contexts. In another ongoing project we conduct a meta-analysis of recent studies that have employed an experimental approach to study preferences for migrants. We also add novel evidence from a large-scale survey that we conducted in collaboration with the UNHCR, targeting displaced populations and their host communities in the Kasai provinces of DR Congo. In addition, we leverage a conjoint experiment included in this survey to study a question that has received little attention in the literature: the preferences that displaced people have for the type of host communities they want to live in.

Location of Nyiragongo volcano and the city of Goma within North-Kivu, DRC.

In May 2021, the Nyiragongo volcano erupted, causing a large-scale evacuation among the residents of Goma – the provincial capital of North-Kivu, DR Congo. Through a structured survey and qualitative interviews, we collected information on the evacuation behaviour of nearly 4,000 members from 500 households. We find that nearly one third of households partially evacuated, leaving some members behind, and demonstrate that this relates to intra-household labor division and specific contextual factors common in low-income settings.

Related publications

“Who Hosts? The Correlates of Hosting the Internally Displaced”. American Political Science ReviewForthcoming. Working paper version media: Good Authority
With P. van der Windt. and L. Peisakhin

Science communication

“Here’s what motivates people to host refugees” Good Authority, 2024. 
With L. Peisakhin and P. van der Windt link


[UNDER REVIEW] “The Determinants of Assistance to Refugees? Ukrainian and Syrian Refugees in Poland” Egap Registry
With V. Charnysh, L. Peisakhin and P. van der Windt

[UNDER REVIEW] “Where to flee? Exploring household-level destination choices during displacement in the Kasai, DRC” Egap Registry
With P. van der Windt and S. Weber

“Whom to host? A meta-analysis of previous work and new evidence from the Congo” Egap Registry
With S. Weber, P. van der Windt and Haoyu Zhai

“You go, I stay: Intrahousehold evacuation behavior and its determinants”
With E. Lunanga, E. M. Ndatabaye and M. Verpoorten

“Evacuation behavior in the absence of disaster preparedness”
With E. Lunanga, E. M. Ndatabaye and M. Verpoorten