A refugee, or as Google defines the term, “a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster”, should not need any further reason for being welcomed into any country. No human being should be forced to live within a war, under persecution, or in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Denying people refuge in their utmost time of need is deplorable. As former U.S. President Jimmy Carter once said, “The measure of a society is found in how they treat their weakest and most helpless citizens.” The humanitarian reasons for helping refugees are as numerous as they are clear. Sometimes we can forget that countries hosting refugees also experience great benefits in opening their doors and welcoming their new members. Here are 6 of the more selfish reasons to welcome refugees to your country, if you’re lucky enough to have them.
They Work Harder Than the Average Citizen
A report published this June (2017) by researchers at the U.S.’s National Bureau of Economic Research found that despite having relatively lower levels of educational attainment and language skills, refugees work at higher rates than “native” citizens within a country.
They Pay More in Taxes than they Receive in Benefits
The same study by the National Bureau of Economic Research also reported that on average refugees pay back $20,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits, resulting in a net profit of $20,000 per refugee for your country.
They Can Boost Dwindling Birthrates
Many of the world’s more prosperous nations have been suffering from decreasing birthrates, a phenomenon that can threaten the economy and overall sustainability of a nation. Germany had suffered from the world’s lowest birthrates from 2008 to 2013, a fact which according to some commentators put a bleak outlook on the country’s future. With the influx of Syrian refugees from 2012 onwards, a report from the German Federal Statistical Office noted that the country’s fertility rate hit a 33 year high in 2016.
Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Victor Hugo and Sergey Brin are among some of the more famous refugees who have provided the world with huge offerings in science, culture, and technology. The countries that hosted them reaped significant benefits from their presence as citizens, and the world at large benefitted from their ability to work within their fields unhindered by the afflictions that had plagued their homelands.
Undermining Divisive Narratives
By accepting refugees into our countries with hospitality, sharing a little of our resources and our spaces with them, and allowing them to live a life without the fear of conflict, we go a long way towards undermining divisive narratives about our civilization that are propagated by extremists from all sides of ideology. By doing this, we help create a safer world, denying groups like ISIS and Neo-Nazis breathing space to preach false ideas about the incompatibility of races, religions, ethnicities and so on. A great volume of social-psychological research exists supporting the idea that living side by side and coming into contact with the “other” is one of the most important aspects to diffusing conflicts and ill feelings.
They Enrich Cuisine
Migrants of all forms have a long tradition of bringing their culinary skills with them, adding depth and taste to local palates, and refugees are no exception. Throughout Europe we are seeing a rise in a more diverse spectrum of food types, from Syrian to Afghani, brought in part due to the arrival of refugees.
Remember! Refugees don’t need to introduce a new meat dish to your community, or formulate a new theory of relativity, to be worth providing refuge for. Nor should they all be ensuring they end up paying more in taxes than they receive in benefits, or work harder than their non-refugee peers do. They are often amongst the most persecuted and deprived groups of people and they deserve being welcomed for nothing more than the fact they are fleeing their homes for the sake of their safety. However, we all have friends who are less welcoming to outsiders, and we can also all fall susceptible to self-centered thinking. It’s important to remember that human decency and humanitarianism aside, there are many more selfish reasons to be happy that your country is welcoming refugees.