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No, the U.S. Is Not the Most Generous Country for Refugees and Asylees in the World — Not by a Long Shot

September 19, 2018 in Economics

By David Bier

David Bier

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday that the United States would
lower its refugee ceiling to just 30,000 refugees — the lowest ceiling since the creation of the
U.S. refugee program in 1980. In doing so, he proclaimed, “We
are, and continue to be, the most generous nation in the
world,” citing the 280,000 asylum claims that the government
will process — though not grant — this year.

Yet even before this latest cut, the United States was not the
most open country in the world when it came to accepting people
— refugees and asylees — fleeing violence around the
world. Controlling for population, other nations accept at much
higher rates.

According to data from the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD), 14 OECD countries received more
permanent residents on humanitarian grounds than the United States
in 2016, the most recent year available.

The United States is not
the most open country in the world toward refugees, but it could
be. All the government needs to do is get out of the way and let
Americans take care of the rest.

The average rate of acceptance for those 14 countries was 0.23%
of their populations, while the U.S. rate was just 0.05% —
nearly 80% lower. Sweden led the way with a rate of acceptance of
0.73% of its population —15 times higher than the U.S.
rate.

This was before the dramatic contraction in numbers overseen by
the Trump administration.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees records the
total populations of refugees inside a country. According to its
most recent data from 2017, 0.1% of U.S. residents were refugees.
This ranked 78th in the world. Lebanon led the way, with 17% of its
population made up of refugees. Most European countries also had
higher refugee shares of their populations than America — for
example, Sweden’s share was 27 times greater than that of the
United States.

Of course, it is true that Sweden is a much smaller country, and
it receives fewer refugees in absolute terms. But controlling for
population provides a much more accurate assessment of a
country’s openness. After all, no one would conclude that the
Chinese are 22 times wealthier than the Swedes simply because
China’s total economy is that much larger. We control for
population by looking at income per person.

The immigration situation is the same. The United States is a
much larger country with more people and resources to integrate
refugees, and so it is essential to control for population to
assess its openness relative to other countries.

In any case, Pompeo …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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