Effect of Syrian Refugees on Native Family Formation: Marriage and Divorce Trends in Turkey


After the civil war in Syria, Turkey faced a massive refugee wave, making Turkey the top refugee-hosting
country in the world. Besides the economic burden of this refugee population, various field surveys reveal that Turkish citizens have some negative perceptions about the refugees. One of the leading concerns on refugees is their possible effects on native family formation by affecting marriage and divorce rates. This study examines the effect of the Syrian refugees on family formation by comparing the trends in different geographical areas of Turkey. While border cities and relatively developed cities host a significant number of Syrians, there are few Syrians living in cities away from the border. By conducting spatial analysis, the study checks whether there is a change in divorce/marriage rates in cities with a high concentration of refugees compared to cities with fewer refugees. By considering the endogenous location choice of the refugees, the study proposes a distance-based instrument to overcome the endogeneity problem in a Difference-in-Differences setting. Results indicate that the refugees do not affect the existing trends in divorce rates and divorce cases. However, there is a limited adverse impact on official marriages. A 1% increase in the refugee ratio corresponds to a 0.03% reduction in official marriages.


Syria refugee divorce