Discussion paper

DP18284 Refugees, children's health and malaria transmission in Africa

By combining newly available geo-referenced data on refugee camps from 2000 to 2016 with 84 Demographic and Health Surveys from 34 countries, we investigate the impact of refugee inflows in Africa on anthropometrics of children who live in local communities. We estimate a robust negative effect on height-for-age and weight-for-age scores of the under 5-year-old children. We interpret our results as causal on the basis of an extensive set of tests and robustness checks. We identify malaria as playing an important role, against alternative explanations. By accounting for the composition by country of origin of refugee camps, we show that the negative effect is driven by refugees coming from countries that are highly affected by malaria to areas where malaria is less prevalent. Importantly, the negative impact of refugees from malaria countries is greatly attenuated in locations where bednets are used.


Dagnelie, O, A Mayda and J Maystadt (2023), ‘DP18284 Refugees, children's health and malaria transmission in Africa‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 18284. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp18284