The role of social capital in refugee integration

This project aimed to increase understanding about the impact of social capital on refugee integration. Researchers analysed data from the Survey of New Refugees (SNR) collected from all new refugees between 2005 and 2009. They also utilized findings from an e-survey with 233 respondents to identify integration priorities of refugees, practitioners, researchers and policy makers.


The e-survey showed that refugees prioritise means and markers, family reunion and facilitators over social connections, but analysis of the SNR demonstrates that refugees possess different kinds of social networks and access different types of social capital and that these have a generally positive impact on their integration.

While the picture is mixed for access to employment and housing the importance of social networks and to a lesser extent, capital, for health and language ability is clear. The analysis of SNR demonstrates that different groups of refugees experience different outcomes with women, Africans and Muslims faring the worse and men from managerial and professional backgrounds faring the best. Living with family and being free from verbal or physical attack is clearly very important for good integration outcomes as is the avoidance of NASS (now UKBA) housing.

  • Improve refugees’ access to good quality language training
  • Encourage all initiatives that enable network development
  • Support NGOs that work with new refugees
  • Support initiatives that increase refugees’ economic activity rates and social mobility
  • Actively protect refugees from verbal and physical harassment
  • Signpost refugees to financial support to help avoid financial difficulties
  • Offer asylum seekers choice of dispersal locations if they have friends or family in close proximity
  • Prioritise integration initiatives for women and Muslims
  • Promote family reunion
Project details



Dr Jenny Phillimore, University of Birmingham

Grant amount and duration


April 2012 - March 2013



Sin Yi Cheung, Jenny Phillimore (2013) Social Networks, Social Capital and Refugree Integration.

Final Report (PDF)

Executive Summary (PDF)