In Focus: Nationality, Citizenship and Refugees: A Global Perspective

AuthorDimitris Ballas,Benjamin D. Hennig
Publication Date01 September 2020
In Focus
The birth-right lottery – the
random act of being born in a
particular part of the world – has
a huge bearing on our lives.
Where we are born – and where we have
citizenship – can determine the social and
economic conditions within which we live.
The Quality of Nationality Index (QNI),
developed by Dimitry Kochenov and Justin
Lindeboom, aims to quantify decisive
indicators that shape and dene key
components which are strongly linked
to having the citizenship of a country.
These include economic strength, human
development, as well as peace and stability,
and also external factors that are related
to travel and settlement freedom linked to
people’s citizenships.
Citizenship plays a pivotal role in one of
the dening geopolitical issues of the 21st
century: migration. Migration has become a
central policy issue globally and especially in
Europe and the United States, with populist
politicians and media outlets attempting
to dominate the political agenda with
unsubstantiated claims relating to migrants
and refugees who are eeing to seek safety
from conict or persecution.
Populists often attempt to blur the
boundaries between migrants and refugees
in an eort to support arguments for more
protectionist policies, including curbing
migration. They often argue that refugees’
main motivation for leaving their countries
are to be found in factors related to their
supposed countries of destination, with
migrants said to leave countries that display
lower quality of nationality measures – such
as reduced economic strength and higher
levels of violence – for more prosperous and
stable societies in the West.
However, looking at long-term global
refugee ows through the lens of the Quality
of Nationality Index a rather dierent picture
emerges. The pair of cartograms opposite
map the origin and destination of refugees
between 2000 and 2015 using the QNI.
The two maps show each country resized
according to the total number of refugees
from that country (countries of origin) or
to that country (countries of destination)
respectively. Overlaid are the colour coded
QNI categories, allowing for a quick reference
of the state of the QNI in each of these
The global movement of refugees is highly
dynamic and can change drastically year on
year. These shifts can be accentuated further
by media coverage, which in turn inuences
public perception. Using longer-term data
gives us a clearer idea of the movement of
people based on veried data, and allows
us to see uctuations in regions that are
experiencing ongoing crises.
The maps document the movement
of over 170 million people between 2000
and 2015, and the data highlights the
changing geopolitical situations, and areas of
conict, during that period. The main origin
continents for refugees were Asia at 52 per
Nationality, Citizenship
and Refugees: A Global
Benjamin D. Hennig and Dimitris Ballas map global migration f‌lows –
and f‌ind that geography is often the strongest determinant of where
people move to.
cent and Africa at 33 per cent, while Europe
was much lower at six per cent. Conicts in
countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and
Somalia, played a large role in the collective
eeing of over 10 million refugees from each
The dominance of medium-to-low QNI
values in these countries can mostly be
explained through conicts leading to a
decline in peace and stability and related
eects on other internal factors, so that the
emerging patterns here are rst and foremost
not surprising.
The destination countries map, however,
shows that the majority of refugees ee close
to home, often in neighbouring countries.
Asian countries make up destinations for 47
per cent of refugees and Africa follows with
28 per cent. Of the ve major destination
countries, four of these neighboured a
conict region: Pakistan, Iran, Syria and Kenya.
Europe was the destination for just under a
fth of the total global number of refugees
between 2000 and 2015. More recently,
Germany was the fth major destination
country due, in part, to its recent open-door
policy and intake of refugees from 2015
The statistics shown here represent
approximately 180 million people for
the period of 2000 to 2015 compared to
approximately 214 million people in the
15-year period before then. Past gures show
that the main ows of refugees have always
broadly gone from conict-ridden countries
towards relatively safer places within the
same region.
For example, between 1985 and 1999,
Iran and Pakistan were also the largest two
Political Insight September 2020 BU.indd 20Political Insight September 2020 BU.indd 20 04/08/2020 13:2804/08/2020 13:28

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT