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The Economic and Social Outcomes of Refugees in the United States: Evidence from the ACS

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  • William N. Evans
  • Daniel Fitzgerald

Abstract

Using data from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey, we use a procedure suggested by Capps et al. (2015) to identify refugees from the larger group of immigrants to examine the outcomes of refugees relocated to the U.S. Among young adults, we show that refugees that enter the U.S. before age 14 graduate high school and enter college at the same rate as natives. Refugees that enter as older teenagers have lower attainment with much of the difference attributable to language barriers and because many in this group are not accompanied by a parent to the U.S. Among refugees that entered the U.S. at ages 18-45, we follow respondents’ outcomes over a 20-year period in a synthetic cohort. Refugees have much lower levels of education and poorer language skills than natives and outcomes are initially poor with low employment, high welfare use and low earnings. Outcomes improve considerably as refugees age. After 6 years in the country, these refugees work at higher rates than natives but they never attain the earning levels of U.S.-born respondents. Using the NBER TAXSIM program, we estimate that refugees pay $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their first 20 years in the U.S.

Suggested Citation

  • William N. Evans & Daniel Fitzgerald, 2017. "The Economic and Social Outcomes of Refugees in the United States: Evidence from the ACS," NBER Working Papers 23498, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23498 Note: CH ED LS PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-489, October.
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    3. Chiswick, Barry R, 1991. "Speaking, Reading, and Earnings among Low-Skilled Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 149-170, April.
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    5. Lori A. Beaman, 2012. "Social Networks and the Dynamics of Labour Market Outcomes: Evidence from Refugees Resettled in the U.S," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 128-161.
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    8. Daniel Feenberg & Elisabeth Coutts, 1993. "An introduction to the TAXSIM model," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 12(1), pages 189-194.
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    Cited by:

    1. David N. Figlio & Umut Özek, 2017. "Unwelcome Guests? The Effects of Refugees on the Educational Outcomes of Incumbent Students," NBER Working Papers 23661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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