Bringing Evidence to the Refugee Integration Debate

Hamutal Bernstein with Nicole DuBois
Date of Publication: 
April, 2018
Source Organization: 
The Urban Institute

Bringing Evidence to the Refugee Integration Debate provides a summary of "the prodigious research evidence about refugees in the US." The authors seek to ground policymaking in the existing research base (focusing on five major studies produced in recent years), as well as to identify gaps in research that should be addressed in the future. Overall, the existing studies show that labor force participation rates for refugees rise over time (often exceeding native-born rates), while their income levels also rise and their use of public benefits declines. A 2017 study found that refugees arriving between the ages of 18 to 45 ultimately contribute $21,000 more in taxes than they cost over a 20-year period. The report addresses the strengths and weaknesses of various techniques for extracting data about refugees from sources such as the American Community Survey, and identifies key questions for which we have little data, such as long-term career paths, intergenerational changes, health and mental health status, and refugee impact on local communities.  The authors conclude that "refugees contribute to the strength and vitality of communities across the US," but that "we need to push the evidence base to develop a stronger understanding of both sides of the integration equation - refugees and receiving communities."  The research for this report was funded by Unbound Philanthropy. (Diversity Dynamics)

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Bernstein, H., & DuBois, N. (2018). Bringing Evidence to the Refugee Integration Debate (Research Report) (p. 32). Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute. Retrieved from