Enhanced local-level willingness and ability to settle refugees: Decentralization and local responses to the refugee crises in Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSøholt S, Aasland Aa. Enhanced local-level willingness and ability to settle refugees: Decentralization and local responses to the refugee crises in Norway. Journal of Urban Affairs. 2019 https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07352166.2019.1569465
The sudden mass influx of asylum-seekers in Europe in 2015, emplaced major stresses on refugee reception systems and challenged central – local migration policymaking. This article explores how this crisis affected policymaking and implementation of refugee settlement in the case of Norway. We show that the local level kept its autonomy in matters of refugee settlement, despite the crisis context. Upkeep of local autonomy enabled municipalities to change their policy, willingness, and ability to settle the increasing numbers of refugees by enhancing municipal incremental problem-solving capacities. A major finding is that the crisis provided motivation for local politicians and employees alike. Solidarity arguments combined with self-interest motivated the shift in municipal policy. This case adds to our knowledge of the importance of the local dimension of migration policymaking in crisis contexts. Political decisions and implementation of settlement of refugees remained decentralized, exemplifying the potential of decentralized welfare states.