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The Economic Experiences of Refugees in Canada


  • DeVoretz, Don J.

    () (Simon Fraser University)

  • Pivnenko, Sergiy

    () (Simon Fraser University)

  • Beiser, Morton

    () (University of Toronto)


Canada admits refugees on the basis of compassion and not economic criteria. It is however, important to document the economic successes or failures among Canada’s refugee population in order to understand how post arrival integration policies affect refugee economic performance. This essay examines a set of economic indicators from Canada’s IMDB database to assess the post 1981 Canadian refugee economic experience. With the aid of a standard human capital model we answer a series of economic questions including the length of time required for refugee economic integration, their use of Canada’s social safety net, refugee poverty levels and refugee economic performance vis-à-vis Canada’s family immigrant class. Our main findings are that employed Canadian refugees earn an amount equal to that earned by their family class reference group circa 1980-2001. However, the incidence of social assistance attachment for refugees is substantial and for those refugees who receive any assistance their total income is at the near destitute level.

Suggested Citation

  • DeVoretz, Don J. & Pivnenko, Sergiy & Beiser, Morton, 2004. "The Economic Experiences of Refugees in Canada," IZA Discussion Papers 1088, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1088

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Morton Beiser & Feng Hou, 2000. "Gender Differences in Language Acquisition and Employment Consequences among Southeast Asian Refugees in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 26(3), pages 311-330, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. TimothyJ. Hatton, 2009. "The Rise and Fall of Asylum: What Happened and Why?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(535), pages 183-213, February.
    2. Julia Bock-Schappelwein & Peter Huber, 2016. "Integrating Asylum Seekers in the Austrian Labour Market," WIFO Monatsberichte (monthly reports), WIFO, vol. 89(3), pages 157-169, March.
    3. Djajić, Slobodan, 2014. "Asylum seeking and irregular migration," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 83-95.
    4. Dries Lens & Ive Marx & SunÄ ica Vujić, 2017. "Integrating (former) asylum seekers into the Belgian labour market. What can we learn from the recent past?," Working Papers 1710, Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp.
    5. DeVoretz, Don J., 2006. "A History of Canadian Recruitment of Highly Skilled Immigrants: Circa 1980-2001," IZA Discussion Papers 2197, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Pieter Bevelander, 2016. "Integrating refugees into labor markets," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 269-269, May.

    More about this item


    human capital; immigrant earnings; refugees;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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