Development environment

Structural drivers and socio-economic impacts of internal displacement

While the humanitarian needs of displaced people are of overriding concern to the international community, a long-term reversal of current trends will require addressing the underlying drivers of displacement, which are social, economic, political and environmental in nature.

The economic case for internal displacement as a development concern for national governments and the international community is yet to be made. Demonstrating the economic costs and opportunities associated with internal displacement for national, regional and local governments, host communities and broader society could present the greatest potential for generating the political will required to address and reduce the phenomenon.

Currently there is a lack of systematic assessments of the overall costs and impacts of internal displacement. What is missing are quantitative or mixed-method assessments of the impact of internal displacement on countries as a whole, including on their national budgets and public spending; both in terms of costs incurred by humanitarian and development assistance required, as well as the opportunity costs from, for example, lost productivity and social cohesion.

Moreover, there are currently no attempts at systematically assessing the costs and policy options associated with the risk of new and protracted displacement. Taking such a prospective perspective, involving scenario assessment and simulation modelling, will help to understand and better avoid future crises.

Our work

We will explore ways of assessing the direct and indirect impacts of internal displacement by adopting a multifaceted approach that combines IDMC’s expertise, critical analysis, and comprehensive data collection methodologies with the expertise provided by a set of multidisciplinary research partners that will use applied systems analysis and economic models to review and assess the economic impacts of displacement.

The research will complement existing analyses by integrating rarely captured time series data to assess changing impacts and costs over time. In addition, the study will expand the scope of IDMC’s disaster-displacement risk model to calculate costs of projected future displacement risk while considering the impacts of a range of policy options. In the future, such results can be transformed into interactive decision-support tools for policy-makers.