Exploring the Contributing Factors to Labor Market Assimilation Outcomes across Refugee Groups in the United States

Graduation Year


Publication Date

Spring 2018

Embargo Period



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Upon arrival in the United States, refugees suffer from a substantial disadvantage in the US labor market when compared to non-refugee immigrants and natives. However, over time, labor market assimilation occurs for refugees as their employment outcomes improve, but the degrees and rates of assimilation vary greatly among refugee groups. This paper aims to analyze why some refugee groups perform worse than others in the US labor market do when human capital differences have been accounted for. This paper has to foci; firstly, it looks at how source country-specific characteristics as measured by the source country’s GDP per capita impact the labor market performance among refugee groups. The second focus broadens the scope to identify non-human capital factors that affect wage gaps between refugees and non-refugee immigrants with similar backgrounds. Using the 2011-2015 American Community Survey data, the author conducted both descriptive statistics and Ordinary Least Squares regression analyses to compare labor market outcomes of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Romania, Russia and other USSR states, Laos, Iraq, and Somalia.



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