Gulcan Saglam

Date of Award

Fall 12-14-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Charles Hankla

Second Advisor

Michael Herb

Third Advisor

Susanne Schorpp

Fourth Advisor

Jelena Subotic


Even though electoral democracies that are party to the refugee protection regime have adopted broadly similar refugee norms, there is still significant variation within and across countries in their responses to asylum crises. To address what explains this variation in national asylum regimes, I develop an interdisciplinary model for asylum policy-making undergirded by classical theories of forced migration, political economy and identity politics. I focus on the dyadic relationship between a destination country and a particular asylum-seeking group, and contend that the labor absorption capacity and social willingness in destination countries will shape their asylum policy responses. The labor absorption capacity is a function of institutional factors in the destination country, such as the industrial relations and skill training systems, and determines whether the labor market has the capacity to absorb the incoming refugee labor. The social willingness is socially constructed and reflects the level of acceptance the host community has towards a particular asylum-seeking group. The dissertation takes an important step towards unpacking destination country asylum policies systematically while controlling for the merit of the asylum claim at hand. My predictions are borne out in a mixed method approach. The quantitative analysis of asylum policies of 30 OECD countries between 2000 and 2014 indicate that the labor absorption capacity and social willingness have statistically and substantively significant positive effects on destination country asylum policies. Destination countries with higher levels of labor absorption capacity have higher Refugee and Total Recognition Rates. Furthermore, higher social willingness to protect a particular asylum-seeking group leads to higher Refugee Recognition Rates in destination countries. The qualitative analysis lays out the causal mechanisms behind the correlation between my dependent and independent variables with in-depth case studies of Turkish and German national asylum regimes during various waves of asylum crises.