September 21, 2016

Barack Obama announces measures to respond to refugee crisis

A US-led coalition of more than 30 countries have agreed to double refugee resettlement places and expand aid at the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants. The refugee crisis has seen 65 million people displaced around the world.

Barack Obama announced that the coalition of 18 developed countries and 17 developing countries has pledged to increase humanitarian aid by $4.5bn, provide education to 1 million more refugee children, and potentially improve access to legal work for another million adults.

The coalition includes countries well-known for their generosity to refugees such as Germany and Sweden, as well as those that have been criticized for their treatment of asylum seekers. Argentina and Portugal are among countries who pledged to start resettlement programs for the first time.

The pledges also include decisions made by Turkey and Jordan in January to open their labor markets to Syrians. In reality many Syrians are excluded from legal work in both countries.

Writing about integrating refugees into labor markets for the IZA World of Labor, Pieter Bevelander says, “given the long-term gap in labor market integration experienced by refugees, host countries are missing out on the potential economic gains offered by refugee immigration.” This gap can fuel poverty and segregation among refugees and subsequently increase societal costs. Bevelander advises policymakers to encourage the adoption of methods that have so far proven to be beneficial for inducing faster economic integration of immigrants; an example is to offer early introduction assistance packages that include training in language and specific labor market aspects.

Related articles:
Integrating refugees into labor markets by Pieter Bevelander
Can market mechanisms help solve the refugee crisis? by Jesús Fernández-Huertas Moraga
Setting policy on asylum: Has the EU got it right? by Tim Hatton

See here for more information on how migration policy affects labor markets.