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Low-income countries have more refugees

Refugee population trends from World Bank data

FRED has just added some refugee data from the World Bank that shows the number of refugees in each country since 1960. In the graph above, we chose to show the statistics from three groups of countries classified by level of income: For middle-income and high-income countries, refugees make up well below half a percent of the general population. In low-income countries, it’s substantially more (although the percentage has declined since the early 1990s). Why so?

  • Refugee migrations generally occur in situations of crisis.
  • Such crises tend to occur in low-income countries.
  • Refugees have limited means to choose where to go, so they often end up in neighboring countries that are likely to share income characteristics with the country in crisis. (That is, the country in crisis and its neighbors are more likely to be low-income countries.)

All these factors contribute to more refugees living in low-income countries.

How this graph was created: Search for “refugee” and select the series for low-income, middle-income, and high-income countries and click “Add to Graph.” (If you search for and select them one at a time, use the “Edit Graph” panel’s “Add Line” feature to add them to the same graph one after the other.) For each series, use the “Edit Lines” feature to divide by the relevant population series: For the low-income series, search for and add the series “Population, Total for Low Income Countries.” In the formula box, add “a/b*100.” Repeat for the middle- and high-income series.

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann.


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