The Integration Outcomes of U.S. Refugees: Successes and Challenges


In 2014 there were more than 14 million refugees worldwide and almost a million places for permanent resettlement were needed. This article reviews administrative and survey data on the characteristics and integration outcomes of refugees resettled in the United States, Canada and Scandinavia. Refugees to these destinations are increasingly diverse in their origins and languages-posing challenges for host communities. Refugees in the United States tend to be employed due to an early focus on self-sufficiency there, but those in Sweden and Norway have low employment rates, with Canada representing a middle ground. While limited English skills slow integration in the United States and Canada, acquiring Norwegian and Swedish is tougher because refugees are seldom exposed to these languages before resettlement. In the United States, older refugee cohorts have reached income parity with the U.S.-born population, but those resettled since the 2008-09 recession have started at a greater employment and income disadvantage. This article describes the administrative and survey data on U.S. refugees in rich detail, but the available administrative data for refugees in Canada, Norway and Sweden have yet to be fully mined.

Statistical Journal of the IAOS
Allan Gregory Auclair
Allan Gregory Auclair
PhD candidate in Economics

Macroeconomist. I study the evolution of corporate profits and the distribution of factor income.