From Asylum Seekers to Illegal Migrants: The intention to overstay of Afghan asylum seekers in Germany
Asylum seekers with a rejected application account for three out of five illegal migrants in Germany. This research sheds some light on the motives behind the decision of asylum seekers to overstay. We conducted a survey on a population of Afghan asylum seekers in three large German cities and elicited subjective beliefs about the chance of obtaining the right to stay in Germany, the perceived risk of deportation and outcomes related to the legal status. We included a Randomized Controlled Trial that provided information about the actual proportion of deportation to half of the population. Furthermore, we elicited the intention to overstay under different hypothetical scenarios. According to the data we collected, Afghan asylum seekers have upwardly biased beliefs about the risk of deportation. Providing information about the actual proportion of deportation in the population does not have a sizable effect on those beliefs or on the intention to overstay. The perceived chance of obtaining the legal right to stay is a key determinant of the intention to overstay. Moreover, we also document substantial variations of subjective beliefs and intention to overstay across cities.