Panel Paper: Let Them Work or Not? Refugees and Their Labor Market Outcomes in Europe

Friday, July 14, 2017 : 11:30 AM
Serenity (Crowne Plaza Brussels - Le Palace)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Klaus F. Zimmermann1,2,3 and Amelie F. Constant2,3, (1)UNU-MERIT, (2)Princeton University, (3)Global Labor Organization
While refugees under the Geneva Convention are protected by the host country government and have the right to work immediately, asylees that is, those who have arrived in the host country and applied for asylum are not protected by any government. In Europe, it is up to the individual EU-state to allow asylees to work or not while they stay in reception centers and wait for the verdict. Some countries such as Sweden allow asylees to work immediately, while others such as Ireland never permit asylees to work. In between are the other 15 EU-states. Moreover, no country permits asylees to become self-employed. But labor market integration is quintessential for any integration in a country. We are using the Labor Force Survey in Europe to study the labor force participation of refugees and asylees in Europe. Our results show that the majority of refugees do not work because institutionalized welfare and other technicalities have backfired. As for asylees, the vast majority of them are not allowed to work and instead they stay idle in reception centers living off of welfare. The stigmatization and deterioration of their skills have long lasting and devastating effects.