Are Refugees and Immigrants Different? Gauging the Correlation Between Refugee Status and Economic and Educational Success

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2015-12-15

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Abstract

Little previous research has analyzed the long-term economic and educational trajectories of refugee and immigrant arrivals in the U.S. Studies have found that refugees outperform immigrants in long-term earnings and economic outcomes because their inability to return to their countries of origin forces them to invest in country-specific human capital. This study revisits this research with a new methodology that increases the sensitivity of identifying refugees. The analysis uses American Community Survey data taken from 2001-2013 and focuses on immigrants and refugees who arrived in the U.S. from 1989-2000. Refugee status was correlated with 11-13% lower earnings relative to immigrants and lower levels of occupational prestige for males but higher earnings and occupational prestige for females. Refugees who arrive as children seem to outperform immigrant children. Disadvantages stemming from sending-country conditions may account for adult refugee under-performance relative to immigrants while refugee services may assist refugee children in outperforming comparablesituated immigrants.

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Westfall, Matthew (2015). Are Refugees and Immigrants Different? Gauging the Correlation Between Refugee Status and Economic and Educational Success. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/23860.


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