Opening up the Black Box of Refugee Status Determination: Explaining Outcome Variations across the Scandinavian Asylum Systems

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

Outwardly, the Scandinavian countries have a widespread reputation of being strongly devoted to equivalent fundamental democratic values, such as protection of human rights and the rule of law. Inwardly, a history of close collaboration and harmonization within a range of legal fields appears. At first glance, the notion of closely aligned Scandinavian interpretations and applications of international law may thus seem conceivable. In the field of asylum and refugees, however, the idea of analogous Scandinavian perceptions of international law seems vigorously challenged.

For example, in 2020 Afghan nationals had 42 % chance of receiving asylum at the first asylum instance in Sweden, against 27 % in Norway and 12 % in Denmark. Although the Scandinavian asylum systems rest on the assumption that asylum is granted to those in need, such disparities have led to accusations describing legal asylum decision-making as “refugee roulette” and “asylum lottery”.

My PhD project aims to uncover the underlying factors that precipitate outcome variations across the Scandinavian asylum systems. My major research question is:

To what extent may national interpretations and applications of international refugee law help explain outcome variations across the Scandinavian asylum systems?

Two sub-questions help to target the major research question:

1) How do Denmark, Sweden and Norway integrate national interpretations of international refugee law into their respective asylum procedures?
2) How do decision makers from different asylum institutions assess refugee eligibility?

To answer these research questions, my PhD forms an intertwining methodological trajectory which moves between doctrinal and comparative legal analysis, on the one hand, and empirical examinations, including qualitative and computational analysis, on the other hand.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusIn preparation - 2024

ID: 371908566