Discussion paper

DP5074 The 'Tampa' Effect. Australian Asylum Policy in International Perspective

Australia?s policies towards asylum seekers hit the headlines when it refused to admit those aboard the Tampa in September 2001. This tough stance and the raft of legislation that followed became known as Australia?s ?Pacific Solution?. It was clearly intended to deter those who might otherwise arrive by sea or by air to claim asylum in Australia. Several other countries toughened their policies after September the 11th 2001. This paper examines the effects of those policies on the subsequent streams of asylum applications by estimating the effects from panel data using a differences-in-differences approach. We find that the post-Tampa effect for Australia was to cut asylum applications by more than half. In other countries such as New Zealand and the UK, negative policy effects are also found but they are somewhat weaker. We conclude that the deterrent effects of policy are greatest not only when tough policies are enforced but when they are also widely publicised.


, (2005), “DP5074 The 'Tampa' Effect. Australian Asylum Policy in International Perspective”, CEPR Press Discussion Paper No. 5074. https://cepr.org/publications/dp5074