Poster Paper: Refugee Students and Peer Effects

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Exhibit Hall C - Exhibit Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Maria Camila Morales, Georgia State University

The number of refugees around the world is at a historical record high. Much of the recent political debate on whether to change the number of incoming refugees centers on the perceived unintended consequences of refugees, and policies that can help them assimilate into local communities. Approximately 40 percent of the refugees who enter the U.S. are under 19; therefore, much of the cultural assimilation takes place in local schools, making education a critical context to study the impact of refugee integration. I exploit natural variation in the share of refugees within schools and across grades to estimate the causal effect of having refugee peers on the test performance of native students in ELA and Math. I also examine non-academic outcomes such as attendance and disciplinary incidents. Results from this paper will serve as evidence on the externalities of refugee integration into local communities, particularly how this population affects native students. If refugee peer exposure matters, these findings can inform discussions on the optimal distribution of students in classrooms, and shed light on the spillover effects that can be obtained from improving the academic outcomes of refugee students.