Discussion paper

DP14296 The Labor Market Integration of Refugee Migrants in High-Income Countries

We provide an overview of the integration of refugees into the labor markets of a number of
high-income countries. Discussing the ways in which refugees and economic migrants are
differently selected and so might be expected to perform differently in a host country’s labor
market, we examine employment and wages for these groups over time after arrival. There is
significant heterogeneity between host countries, but in general refugees experience
persistently worse outcomes than other migrants. While the gaps between the groups can be
seen to decrease on a timescale of a decade or two, this is more pronounced in employment
rates than it is in wages. We also discuss how refugees are distinct in terms of other factors
affecting integration, including health, language skills and social networks. We provide a
discussion of insights for public policy in receiving countries, concluding that supporting
refugees in early labor market attachment is crucial.


Brell, C, C Dustmann and I Preston (2020), ‘DP14296 The Labor Market Integration of Refugee Migrants in High-Income Countries‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 14296. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp14296