Salam Alhaj Hasan

Institute of Development Research and Development Policy

Refugee economies: The case of Syrian refugees in Jordan

In my PhD research, I focus on how Syrian refugees in Jordan cope with displacement economically.
Since 2011, more than 5.5 million Syrians have crossed international borders to flee their homes (UNHCR, 2018). They reside mainly in five neighboring countries (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt). Displacement poses challenges on host countries and on refugees. With increasingly longer periods of displacement, aid funding is decreasing. The regional refugee and resilience plan reports lower percentages of funding received each year. In 2017, the plan received ($2.45 billion) 53% of its appeal compared to 71% in 2013. In addition, most hosting countries grant no legal status to refugees and consider them “guests” limiting their rights of work and movement. Refugees, hence, struggle to secure basic needs. According to a UNICEF assessment, more than 85% of Syrian refugee children live in poverty in Jordan. Despite such restrictions, refugees do have agency and find strategies to generate income. More than 90% of them live out-side camps. While this lowers the chances they receive aid, it might increase the chances they find jobs. Regulations and aid differ between camps and out-side camps. Because of this difference in institutional settings, I chose Jordan as my case study. The country hosts more than 658,716 registered Syrian refugees. In addition, it has established three official camps unlike Lebanon where camps are not allowed.
My research investigates the dynamics of refugee economies. I examine how refugees allocate their resources within the institutional context in Jordan. My theoretical framework suggests that the main factors influencing the economic behaviour of refugees include: regulations pertaining to work and movement, international aid, and other factors relating to the social and human capital of refugees. I hypothesize about the channels of influence using microeconomic theory and different income and labour functions. The empirical part of my research tests these hypotheses and feeds back to my theoretical framework. For example, using my data, I test if humanitarian assistance is encouraging individuals to opt for informal work.
By observing already emerging market-based activities, and quantifying effects of different institutional settings on income and labour, I can provide an economic perspective on the dynamics of these emerging economies. Such a perspective is lacking in the literature. Very few empirical studies tackle the issues of refugee economies; fewer still deal with this issue in the context of the Middle East. My research aims to fill this gap, contribute to the knowledge on the different effects that alternative institutional approaches will bring about for refugees livelihoods and will provide insights into the effectiveness of related policies put in place by host countries and international organisations.



  • November 2019
    "Forced Migration in Transition: Perspectives from Social Science and Law"
    Conference of the SYLFF Mikrokolleg on Forced Migration
    14 – 15 November 2019
    Ruhr University Bochum

    More info here.

  • October 2019

    On October 1st, Keita Sugai from the Tokyo Foundation visited the RUB Research School. He took the opportunity to exchange ideas with Prof. Dr. Löwenstein, Dr. Christiane Wüllner and Dr. Sarah Gemicioglu on the design of the Sylff Mikrokolleg. At a meeting with fellow students and associates of the Kolleg, he learned more about the activities and the upcoming conferences, organized by the members of the Sylff-Mikrokolleg.

  • August 2019
    Congratulations! Benedikt Behlert and UK Mong Marma raised additional funding by the Tokyo Foundation for their projects

  • July 2019

    The SYLFF associate, doctoral candidate Mais Masadeh presented her research on the resilience of victims of war currently living in Germany, at the workshop  “Politics, Identities and Relationships in the Transatlantic World” which took place  at City University New York (CUNY)  between July 8-13 in NY. 

    The program was organized and funded by the Graduate Center of CUNY, The Ralph Bunche Institute, the EU Studies Center, and the RUB Research School Bochum. Lead by the Dean of the Faculty of History, Prof. C. Goschler and his counterpart Prof. J. Torpey, the director of the R.Bunche Institute,  the program focuses on leading a platform of transatlantic research cooperation and equip participants with recent academic and professional skills such as sharpening research ideas and identifying gaps in research through group discussions, publishing inside and outside academia, grant seeking and cultural nuances. Key speakers included Steven Sokol, the president of the American Council on Germany, Yvonne Rothschild, the Executive Director of the European-American Chamber of Commerce, Micah Kleit, the Director of the Rutgers University Press, and Anne Glusker the Deputy Editor of To ensure the continuity of this transatlantic cooperation, the sixth program-meeting will convene in July in 2020 welcoming researchers from American institutions and will take place at RUB.

  • June 2019

    Foto: © Mais Masadeh

    On June 4th, the Sylff associate Mais Masadeh along with Dr. Gedahus moderated a panel entitled “Was kommt nach der Flucht aus der ISIS-Sklaverei?”. The panel hosted two keynote speakers Ms Salwa Rasho, a Yazidi human rights activist who was abducted by ISIS in 2014 along with thousands of Yazidi women and girls. She was able to escape the terrorist organization in 2015 and was resettled through a humanitarian program in Germany. Mirza Dinnayi, the founder of Luftbrüke Irak, a non-profit organization aims to assist victims of war from Irak to be treated in German hospitals. The panelists shared experiences from their lives during ISIS siege of parts of Kurdistan, challenges of humanitarian aid in the region, how the surviving Yazidi population are adapting after the war and the current situation of rescued children who have been recruited into ISIS military camps and challenges to assist and reintegrate them back not the society. The panel was organized by the IFHV in cooperation with the faculty of social sciences.

  • June 2019
    Mit der Bitte um zahlreiches Erscheinen: Veranstaltung der RUB zum Weltflüchtlingstag 2019, am 15. Juni im Blue Square.

  • May 2019
    RUB Research School visiting Tokyo Foundation

    RUB Research School Managing Director Dr. Christiane Wüllner and Dr. Jörn Benzinger gladly accepted the invitation to visit the headquarters of Tokyo Foundation and SYLFF during their visit to Japan. The informative exchange helped to foster the strong relationship between RUB Research School and Tokyo Foundation.

    We are very much looking forward to continuing the extremely fruitful cooperation and would like to express our sincere gratitude for SYLFF’s support of doctoral researchers at our university. Thank you for having us!

  • May 2019
    Benedikt Behlert published an article on "Völkerrechtsblog"

  • March 2019
    We are starting to build RUB's network on "Forced Migration".
    Share your approaches, ideas and results with fellows and associates of
    the Sylff Kolleg on "Forced Migration". Doctoral researchers and advanced
    master students of all disciplines are invited to discuss their research in
    this network. Read more.

  • December 2018:
    The Sylff Fellows participated in a one day workshop on providing and receiving feedback in an academic setting at RUB Research School.

  • November 2018
    Read the new article on the  “Verfassungsblog/On matters constitutional”of Benedikt Behlert dealing with the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

  • October 2018:
    Corinna Land raised additional funding by the Tokio Foundation for her project

  • February 2018: Sylff-Mikrokolleg Kick-off
    The Kick-off Event of the Sylff-Mikrokolleg in Forced Migration started with a warm welcome by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Löwenstein, Dean of RUB Research School and Research Academy Ruhr as well as a member of the Steering Committee of the Sylff-Mikrokolleg. Dr. Benjamin Etzold from the Bonn International Center for Conversion (Bicc) held the inauguration speech and provided a talk on „Violence – Mobility – Space. Key Perspectives in Forced Migration Studies“. Afterwards, the four Sylff fellows presented their PhD projects to the audience. All those present used the opportunity to discuss the different research projects within the get-together after the event.

SYLFF links

SYLFF links

  • RUB Mailinglist on migration (Flucht und Migration)
  • Further information on projects and activities dealing with the subject flight throughout Germany can be found in the Interactive Map made by the Bonn International Center for Conversion (Bicc) in collaboration with the “Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies”. The Sylff-Mikrokolleg is also listed in this map.