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Consequences of Immigrating During a Recession: Evidence from the US Refugee Resettlement Program

Mask, Joshua (2018): Consequences of Immigrating During a Recession: Evidence from the US Refugee Resettlement Program.

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Abstract

I examine long-term employment and wage consequences for refugees who immigrate to the United States under different business cycle conditions. It is difficult to causally identify the relationship between initial economic conditions and subsequent outcomes for most immigrants because they can choose when and where they immigrate. However, refugees offer a unique opportunity to empirically measure these outcomes because their dates of arrival and states of placement are exogenously chosen through the US Refugee Resettlement Program. For every one percentage point increase in the national unemployment rate at arrival, refugees on average experience a 2.99% reduction in wages five years later and a 1.8 percentage point reduction in employment four years later. Estimates using state unemployment rate at arrival show less persistence suggesting mobility or differential economic improvement across states may be important in mitigating these effects. I also divide the sample across gender and educational attainment. I find no evidence of wage scarring for uneducated males but observe a 4.85% reduction in wages five years later for high school-educated males and a 5.29% reduction in wages four years later for college-educated.

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