ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Why Economic Analysis Is Essential to Resettlement

This paper examines the current state of the art in resettlement research, comparing the progress in socioanthropological knowledge about resettlement with economic knowledge. The comparison questions whether the economic knowledge and the analytical methods used for planning and financing resettlement are adequate for achieving the goals of resettlement policy. Historically, research on involuntary resettlement has emerged primarily within the fields of anthropology and sociology. Economic research on displacement and resettlement, the author argues, is virtually missing - but would be indispensable to improving resettlement outcomes. The paper argues that the method of cost-benefit analysis, and the conventional project risk and sensitivity analyses used in projects entailing resettlement, are incapable of answering displacement's economic and financial challenges and in practice tolerate the structural underfinancing of resettlement operations. The author calls for a constructive "alliance" between economic and sociological knowledge on resettlement and argues that in-depth economic knowledge is indispensable to achieving two fundamental goals of resettlement policy: reduced displacement and development of resettlers' livelihoods, once they have moved.

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