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Urban Disparities and Quality of Life Among Afghan Refugees Living in Informal Settlements in Mashhad, Iran

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Abstract

Urban planning policies have important implications for the quality of life of citizens and residents. Quality of life is measured through ‘objective’ and subjective indicators which offer critical insights into how policies, inequalities, and disparities affect human life. Existing literature on quality of life measures has largely overlooked informal settlements, and the residents living in them. This paper addresses this issue, by studying the quality of life of Afghan immigrants and refugees living in Iran. There are currently 2.5 million Afghan immigrants and refugees living in Iran, and despite living in the country for more than four decades, there have been few systematic studies of their quality of life. We surveyed 382 Afghan immigrants in the city of Mashhad and use a multi-dimensional and multi-variable approach to assess key social, economic, health, gender, and environmental issues affecting them. Among our key findings, we show that men are more satisfied than women with their lives, with no significant differences observed between different generations; Inadequate and oppressive immigration laws have led to the detrimental segregation of Afghan refugees from the rest of the population; Poor urban management and public provisions are correlated with the lowest levels of quality of life among Afghan immigrants. We contend that measures of quality of life are imperative to future research on urban informality as we show that precarity within informal settlements can take heterogeneous forms. Quality of life indicators and measures are essential yet under-utilized for urban planning and management.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table A.1 Ranks of intuitive and reflective quality of life
Table A.2 Ranks of quality of life between genders
Table A.3 Measuring the quality of life in immigrant neighborhoods

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Hosseini, A., Finn, B.M., Sajjadi, S.A. et al. Urban Disparities and Quality of Life Among Afghan Refugees Living in Informal Settlements in Mashhad, Iran. Applied Research Quality Life 18, 1073–1097 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11482-022-10133-0

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