Long-term effects of the 1923 mass refugee inflow on social cohesion in Greece

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After the 1919–1922 Greco-Turkish conflict, 1.2 million Greek Orthodox were forcibly displaced from Turkey to Greece, increasing the host population by 20 percent within a few months. Refugees were provided with farmland, new houses and schools, and were granted the Greek citizenship. This paper analyses the social integration outcomes of refugees from the first and second generations, as well as the long-term effect of their resettlement on the social cohesion of receiving communities. Combining historical and modern population censuses and surveys, I find that, by the 2000s, refugees display a high rate of intermarriage with Greek natives, report levels of trust in others and in institutions similar to natives, vote for similar political parties, and exhibit higher political and civic engagement than natives. The integration of refugees was notably fostered by the construction of new schools which helped close the literacy gap with native children shortly after refugees’ arrival in Greece. At the local level, places with higher share of refugees in 1928 display greater participation in voluntary associations 80 years later. I find no evidence that refugees either reduced voter turnout, increased political fragmentation, or led to higher levels of crime in places of resettlement. These results may suggest that early investments in inclusion policies can be effective at fostering refugees’ assimilation, at least when newcomers and locals have similar cultural profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106311
JournalWorld Development
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Historical persistence
  • Immigration
  • Integration
  • Refugees
  • Social cohesion


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