Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies vol:41 issue:11 pages:1836-1857
This study examined refugees' wishes to return to their home country. While actual return might not be feasible due to unsafe conditions in the country of origin, refugees’ wish to return might be affected by integration in the receiving country. Previous research on return intentions among economic migrants has pointed at the relevance of employment and education (structural integration), language proficiency (cultural integration) and contact with natives (social integration) in shaping the wish to stay or return. We examined whether this is also the case among refugees. Furthermore, we extended research on return intentions by considering two social psychological experiences–host country identification and perceived discrimination–as mediators in the associations between the three aspects of integration and return wishes. Using a large survey among refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Somalia in the Netherlands, we found that employment was not related to return wishes. Higher educated refugees and those proficient in Dutch perceived more discrimination and were therefore more likely to want to return. Simultaneously, language proficiency was also related to a wish to stay via increased host country identification. Contacts with natives were related to less discrimination and more identification, and therefore to a wish to stay. We discuss the importance of social psychological experiences, and the cross pressures they exert on the return wishes of refugees.