International Studies (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Srobana Bhattacharya


Globally, the displacement of persons is reaching record numbers, including millions of refugees seeking safety outside of their native countries. The existing literature on factors of successful refugee settlement lacks specific quantitative analysis, and most of the available information on the role of culture is limited to psychological and social research. I expect that large perceived differences in the culture of the refugee and the culture of the country in which they settle will cause a combination of xenophobic public responses and restrictive government policies, and therefore will be negatively related to successful social integration of those refugees. I assess the role of culture in settlement by analyzing quantitatively the relationship between cultural distance - the gap between the culture of the refugee and the culture of the country in which they settle - and successful settlement in society. I expect that cultural distance will be negatively associated with achievement of legal status. I also analyze prominent refugee crises between the late 1970s and 2016 to qualitatively assess the role of culture in integration. The case study section discusses the history, cultural factors, and integration of Syrian refugees in Germany, Venezuelan refugees in Colombia, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, and refugees from El Salvador to the United States. I find that cultural distance is negatively associated with education, employment, and sanitation of living conditions, and positively associated with xenophobia within the country of settlement.