How Countries Measure Refugee Integration

The MRS Program Advancement and Evaluation unit has developed an overview of refugee integration metrics, allowing MRS staff and refugee resettlement stakeholders to take a closer look at refugee integration in an international context. This overview includes the integration approaches of the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand.

What stands out is Canada’s attempt to define integration as a two-way process, asking both newcomers and Canadian-born residents to step up, in the sense that refugees are expected to make an effort to understand and respect the new societal values, while the receiving society is expected to get to know and appreciate the socio-cultural contributions refugees bring with them to Canada.

On the opposite end of the spectrum stands the German model, which puts the onus almost entirely on refugees. While the integration goal is to enable newcomers to participate fully in all aspects of German social, political and economic life, there are some strings attached for refugees (but not for the host community). Refugees are expected to learn German and to abide by the constitution. The peculiarity of the German integration model,  aside from its obsession with language acquisition, which should be no surprise for people familiar with Mark Twain’s brilliantly satirical analysis of “The Awful German Language” –  is the idea of utilizing sports as a facilitator of integration. This idea may be worth exploring more in the U.S., particularly in light of the tremendous successes of Atlanta’s “Fugees Family” and other American refugee soccer initiatives as a bridge from isolation to socialization and learning. Yet, in the United States – also no surprise – refugee integration is primarily measured in the sense of  economic integration, with some newly-added requirements for refugee host community consultations. The Australian integration model shares many indicators in common with approaches in the U.S., Canada, Germany and New Zealand. However, it does seem to emphasize the role neighborhood connections and home-ownership play in the integration process.

The most holistic of all four refugee integration models – United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Germany – is the Canadian model. It not only emphasizes newcomers’ access to employment and educational opportunities, healthcare, language development, social capital and a clear pathway to citizenship. It also stresses refugees satisfaction with their own resettlement experience.

Daniel Sturm, Refugee Integration in the International Context, Migration and Refugee Services/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Program Advancement and Evaluation, 2016.

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Syrian Refugee Children Suffer from PTSD – 10 Times More than U.S. Kids

Refugee Research Blog

This Migration Policy Institute report summarizes results from the ground-breaking Bahçeşehir Study of Syrian Refugee Children in Turkey, which found that 45 percent of refugee children displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – ten times the prevalence among children around the world – and 44 percent reported symptoms of depression.

Syrian refugee children are also at risk for a range of mental health issues resulting from their traumatic experiences. This report draws on the results of a study on Syrian refugee children, conducted in Islahiye camp in southeast Turkey, which assesses children’s levels of trauma and mental health distress. These children had experienced very high levels of trauma: 79 percent had experience a death in the family; 60 percent had seen someone get kicked, shot at, or physically hurt; and 30 percent had themselves been kicked, shot at, or physically hurt. Almost half (45 percent) displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress…

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Refugees with Training 5 Times More Likely to Succeed

This recent dissertation dissects data from the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement’s  Annual Survey Questionnaire of Refugees. The study finds that higher pre-arrival education and language proficiency levels predict better U.S. employment outcomes. Quite interestingly, the dissertation also finds that refugees who have participated in job training assistance programs are five times more likely to be employed than those who have not.

Higher levels of education on arrival to the US and higher levels of self-reported English language proficiency were found to predict higher likelihoods of being currently employed. Further, while participation in job training and assistance programs would be expected to increase the likelihood of employment among refugees, the actual odds ratio estimate produced by the model is noteworthy. It is estimated that those who have participated in such programs are almost five times more likely to be employed than those who have not. (…) Results indicated a strong influence of demographic factors—such as gender, marital status, and region of origin—on employment outcomes, as well as evidence of the importance of English language proficiency and job training services in securing employment.
Rami Arafah, Predicting Economic Incorporation Among Newly Resettled Refugees in the United States: A Micro-Level Statistical Analysis. University of California at Berkeley, 2016

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75% of U.S. Refugees Become Citizens Within 11-20 Years

Over time, the vast majority of people in Somali, Burmese, Hmong, and Bosnian refugee groups become citizens. Some groups start out with relatively few members becoming citizens after living in the United States for 10 years or less, due in part to the share who have not been in the country long enough to naturalize. By the time they have been in the United States for 11 years to 20 years, however, between two-thirds and three-quarters of each group have become naturalized U.S. citizens. Once in the United States for more than 20 years, more than three quarters of each group are naturalized citizens, with Burmese refugees having the highest rate at 92 percent.
David Dyssegaard Kallick with Silva Mathema: Refugee Integration in the United States. June 2016.

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Syrian Refugee Children Suffer from PTSD – 10 Times More than U.S. Kids

This Migration Policy Institute report summarizes results from the ground-breaking Bahçeşehir Study of Syrian Refugee Children in Turkey, which found that 45 percent of refugee children displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – ten times the prevalence among children around the world – and 44 percent reported symptoms of depression.

Syrian refugee children are also at risk for a range of mental health issues resulting from their traumatic experiences. This report draws on the results of a study on Syrian refugee children, conducted in Islahiye camp in southeast Turkey, which assesses children’s levels of trauma and mental health distress. These children had experienced very high levels of trauma: 79 percent had experience a death in the family; 60 percent had seen someone get kicked, shot at, or physically hurt; and 30 percent had themselves been kicked, shot at, or physically hurt. Almost half (45 percent) displayed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – ten times the prevalence among children around the world – and 44 percent reported symptoms of depression. Approximately one-quarter reported daily psychosomatic pains in their limbs, with one in five suffering from daily headaches. (…) In comparison, in the United States only 1 to 2 percent of prepubescent children and 3 to 8 percent of adolescents are diagnosed with depression.
Selcuk Sirin and Lauren Rogers-Sirin, The Educational and Mental Health of Syrian Refugee Children. Migration Policy Institute, 2015.

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Income Drops for Recent Refugee Arrivals

Despite relatively high educational attainment and employment rates, refugees have lower incomes than other immigrants. Refugees’ median household income in 2009-11 was $42,000, about $3,000 below other immigrants’ and $8,000 less than the median for the U.S. born. Nevertheless, refugees’ incomes notably rise with length of U.S. residence. The median income of refugees who arrive in 1980-90 was $31,000 higher than the median income of those who arrived in 2006-11. (…) concerning is that recent refugees’ incomes have dropped relative to those of the U.S. born. This gap suggests that the income gains observed among earlier arrivals may not be replicated for those who arrived more recently. Refugee who arrived in the United States between 1995 and 2000 had median household incomes equivalent to 62 percent of U.S.-born household incomes, as measured in the 2000 Census; but refugees who had been in the United States for five years or less in 2009-11 had median incomes equal to 452 percent of the U.S. born.
Migration Policy Institute: The Integration Outcomes of U.S. Refugees, 2015

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U.S. Immigrant Children Experience Less Discrimination than EU kids

This intriguing study finds that children of U.S. immigrants face far fewer problems with discrimination than the second generation immigrant children in Europe.

“There is improvement across the generations in all non-EU OECD countries, whereas the reverse is the case in most of the EU countries for which data are presented in Figure 1.5. In these latter countries, the native-born children of immigrants are in fact more likely to feel discriminated against than their peers who have actually immigrated. Their sentiment could have grave implications for social cohesion. A possible explanation for this pattern is that persons who have themselves immigrated may have frames of reference more oriented to the origin country, while the native-born offspring of immigrants have been socialised into host-country norms and standards of equal treatment and are thus more aware of and sensitive to infractions of these standards.”
OECD: Indicators of Immigrant Integration. Settling In. 2016

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