This article examines the local socio-economic impact of the arrival of Mozambican refugees in the Eastern Province of Zambia. Previous studies of forced migration elsewhere in Africa have suggested that not only stresses, but also positive gains for local development may be felt in areas hosting significant numbers of refugees. It is suggested here that an appropriate framework from which to analyze the impact of refugees is to focus separately on the effects of population increase on the one hand, and the specific characteristics of refugees on the other. Using this distinction, a model is developed of potential beneficial changes resulting from the arrival of refugees. Key assumptions of this model are then identified to be of relevance to policies designed to promote local economic development under conditions of refugee migration.