Asylum seekers (AS) are forced to deal with challenging circumstances and living difficulties in the receiving countries, a situation that tends to increase their psychological distress and impair their quality of life. Based on the Social Capital Theory, the current study sought to identify social factors that might reduce the psychological distress and improve the quality of life of AS. The sample consisted of 227 Darfuri asylum seekers in Israel aged 19 to 58. The participants completed a questionnaire assessing: the dependent measures of psychological distress and physical, psychological, and environmental wellbeing, and the predictors of post-migration living difficulties, number of AS and Israeli friends, social support, and receiving assistance from and volunteering in nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The findings show that whereas social support, mainly from friends, improved quality of life, the number of AS friends tended to reduce it. The results suggest that merely having friends is not enough to improve one’s quality of life and may even have the opposite effect when the two sides share similar adversities. However, when the friends are available to offer support, they can contribute to improved quality of life. Thus, while some social capital indicators are beneficial, others might have a detrimental effect. The results therefore indicate the need to strengthen the social contacts of AS while paying careful attention to the cost of exposure to peers’ adversities.
Dr. Yifat Faran
Does Social Capital Improve the Quality of Life of Asylum Seekers? Evidence from Israel
Ashkelon Academic College, Israel