In This Review

The Wealth of Refugees: How Displaced People Can Build Economies
The Wealth of Refugees: How Displaced People Can Build Economies
By Alexander Betts
Oxford University Press, 2021, 448 pp
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Today, there are more than 25 million people who have left their countries of origin because of some combination of economic, environmental, and political crises. Such refugees often feature in Western media as a burden on the rich countries of the developed world. In fact, the overwhelming majority remain in the region of their homeland, as Betts makes clear in this informative account of contemporary refugee policy. The three East African countries that provide the main case studies for the book—Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda—alone account for some three million refugees today. Betts’s central argument is that even in low-income hosting countries, the right mix of policies can ensure that refugees not merely survive in misery but can instead thrive and generate wealth for themselves, their communities, and the host country. In particular, his analysis suggests that providing refugees with civil and economic rights, allowing them to work, and integrating them more completely in the receiving communities can lead to much better outcomes.