Social Capital

What Determines Refugee Resilience?
An exploratory, action research approach was used with adult Karen-Refugees (n = 26) separated by sex (male/female) in focus group sessions. The aim of the study was to explore a cultural-, context-specific definition of resilience and the factors that may contribute to resilience in resettlement using an ecological framework. In vivo coding techniques were used resulting in several themes. Results suggested a definition of resilience that encompassed a sense of gratitude, positive outlook, and resourcefulness; demonstrating a strong work ethic and perseverance, and moving towards a sense of community and belonging. Factors contributing to resilience in resettlement include language and availability of resources, the importance and value of education, the availability of other resources in the community (e.g., employment), a supportive civil society, special care for the elderly, and opportunities for the exhibition of cultural pride, and preservation, which lead to a sense of community and belonging. Implications for prevention and intervention services are discussed along with contributions to literature pertaining to international psychology, resilience, and refugee research.
Lopez, Dixelia, Resilience in the Karen-Refugee Population from Myanmar/Burma Resettled in the U.S.: An Exploratory Study. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, 2016.

Social Capital is Key
Observing Colorado refugees over a period of 5 years, the Refugee Survey & Evaluation (RISE) Study finds a correlation between a refugee’s social capital – defined as the level of integration and participation in the new community – and well-being. Quote: […] those [refugees] with low integration repeatedly related experiences of isolation. Most felt safe at home, but they resisted venturing outside the home, where the world felt unfamiliar and unsafe. Although older respondents seemed to brighten when discussing excursions they took through church or adult daycare, these experiences were limited to once or twice a week.
Lichtenstein, G., Puma, J., Engelman, A., Miller, M. (2016). The Refugee Survey & Evaluation (RISE) Study, Year 5: Final Report—A Study of Refugee Integration in Colorado.Unpublished technical report (pp. 1-126). Bluff, Utah, USA: Quality Evaluation Designs.

UK Study: Language Competency Correlates with Social Capital
Social networks emerge as particularly important in relation to health and language ability. The more networks refugees possess the better their language competency. For women their language skills are better when they associate with out-groups, while for men contact with friends and relatives. Possession of social networks is important for emotional health. In addition the more contact that refugees have with friends and family the healthier they are. There is clear evidence in our analysis of the importance of financial resources and language competency in integration. Those with good language skills were likely to fare better in almost every domain while those with financial problems were likely to fare worse. Given the importance of language to integration, and literacy to social mobility, it is particularly worrying that despite refugees placing so much value on language competency many refugees with poor language skills were not accessing training or found that training did not help them develop the employment language they need. (..). Evidence from our findings supports the case for improving access to integration initiatives for refugees, making changes to asylum and family reunion policy and prioritizing groups that are multiply disadvantaged
Sin Yi Cheung, Social networks, social capital and refugee integration, Research Report for Nuffield Foundation, 2013.

The Negative Impact of Social Capital
The major finding in this research is the negative effect of sponsorship status on the earnings of female refugees in their most recent year of work.(…) My observations indicate that female reunification case refugees not only experience real costs associated with using social capital, but also could take advantage of non-pecuniary benefits unavailable to female free case refugees. For example, female reunification case refugees frequently acknowledged expectations from their social ties regarding responsibility for child care and help with household chores for extended family members and friends that their free case counterparts did not. While these obligations constrained the amount of time that reunification case females could participate in the labor market, it also resulted in a more satisfying social life and allowed them to request reciprocation from their social ties when they needed child care and other types of assistance in their households. In contrast, free case females were typically on their own when arranging and paying for childcare, and performing household chores. How female reunification case refugees valued reciprocal contributions from social ties and how researchers should factor these contributions into analyses of the effects of social capital on the lives of refugees are open questions that a more comprehensive study must address.
Ryan Allen, Benefit or Burden? Social Capital, Gender, and the Economic Adaptation of Refugees, The International Migration Review, Vol. 43, No. 2 (Summer 2009), pp. 332-365

If Social Networks Grow Too Large, Outcomes Suffer
This paper examines the dynamic implications of social networks for the labor market outcomes of refugees resettled in the U.S. A theoretical model of job information transmission shows that the relationship between social network size and labor market outcomes is heterogeneous and depends on the vintage of network members: an increase in network size can negatively impact some cohorts in a network while benefiting others. To test this prediction, I use new data on political refugees resettled in the U.S. and exploit the fact that these refugees are distributed across cities by a resettlement agency, precluding individuals from sorting. The results indicate that an increase in the number of social network members resettled in the same year or one year prior to a new arrival leads to a deterioration of outcomes, while a greater number of tenured network members improves the probability of employment and raises the hourly wage.
Lori Beaman, Social Networks and the Dynamics of Labour Market Outcomes: Evidence from Refugees Resettled in the U.S. In: Review of Economic Studies, Vol 79, Issue (2011).
Canadian Study Finds Social Networks Critical to Success
Survey data from a large sample of recent refugees (N=525) living in Canada are used to profile the size and structure of refugees’ social networks and to highlight the value (or function) of such social capital in the resettlement process. Despite the traumas associated with becoming a refugee, most adult refugees remain part of at least some familial networks. A large minority are connected with more extended family networks, and almost half plant to build these networks by sponsoring other family members. As resettlement continues, more extensive extra-familial networks involving neighbors, co-workers and employers, other community members, and a wide range of service providers are constructed. These many formal and informal social networks are extremely valuable, providing much-needed support and assistance when refugees are faced with financial, employment, personal, or health problems. Policy challenges arising from these findings are discussed.
Lamba, N.K. & Krahn, H., Social Capital and Refugee Resettlement: The Social Networks of Refugees in Canada, Int. Migration & Integration, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 335–360 (2003)

75% of 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.