Spatial interaction and security: a review and case study of the Syrian refugee crisis

Michael J. Frith, Miranda Simon, Toby Davies, Alex Braithwaite, Shane D. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sir Alan Wilson's ideas have been highly influential in the modelling of phenomena including migration, transport and economics. Latterly, research has explored the application of similar ideas to new problems at larger scales. Many of these studies relate to global challenges with significant policy implications. Here, we present an example in the form of original empirical work concerning forced migration associated with the current Syrian refugee crisis. We employ a spatial interaction framework to examine the flows of migrants fleeing Syria and the characteristics which influence their choice of destination country. In line with the broader literature, we find that shorter distances, economic prosperity, and cultural similarity (e.g. shared language) attract forced migrants, as does the probability of being granted asylum; a finding with potential implications for policy. Contrary to expectation, we find little influence for levels of security in potential host nations (e.g. absence of terrorism).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-341
Number of pages14
JournalInterdisciplinary Science Reviews
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2019


  • Refugees
  • conflict
  • migration
  • spatial interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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