The Impact of Syrian Refugees on the Turkish Labor Market

47 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016

See all articles by Ximena V. Del Carpio

Ximena V. Del Carpio

World Bank - Independent Evaluation Group

Mathis C. Wagner

Boston College

Date Written: August 24, 2015


Currently 2.5 million Syrians fleeing war have found refuge in Turkey, making it the largest refugee-hosting country worldwide. This paper combines newly available data on the distribution of Syrian refugees across Turkey and the Turkish Labour Force Survey to assess their labor market impact. Syrian refugees are overwhelmingly employed informally, since they were not issued work permits, making their arrival a well-defined supply shock to informal labor. Consistent with economic theory our instrumental variable estimates, which also control for distance from the Turkish-Syrian border, suggest large-scale displacement of natives in the informal sector. At the same time, consistent with occupational upgrading, there are increases in formal employment for the Turkish - though only for men without completed high school education. Women and the high-skilled are not in a good position to take advantage of lower cost informal labor. The low educated and women experience net displacement from the labor market and, together with those in the informal sector, declining earning opportunities.

Keywords: Social Protections & Assistance, Conflict and Fragile States

Suggested Citation

Del Carpio, Ximena V. and Wagner, Mathis Christoph, The Impact of Syrian Refugees on the Turkish Labor Market (August 24, 2015). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7402, Available at SSRN:

Ximena V. Del Carpio (Contact Author)

World Bank - Independent Evaluation Group ( email )

Washington, DC 20433
United States

Mathis Christoph Wagner

Boston College ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

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