Integrating Refugees: Language Training or Work-First Incentives?

56 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2020

See all articles by Jacob Nielsen Arendt

Jacob Nielsen Arendt

Rockwool Foundation Research Unit

Iben Bolvig

Aarhus University

Mette Foged

University of Copenhagen, Department of Economics

Linea Hasager

University of Copenhagen

Giovanni Peri

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 2020

Abstract

Social and economic integration of refugees are key to their personal fulfillment and to producing positive effects in the host country. We evaluate the impact of a reform that expanded and improved early language classes to refugees in Denmark while also temporarily lowering welfare benefits for a subgroup of them. The policy change applied to those who obtained refugee status in Denmark on or after January 1, 1999. Using a regression discontinuity design around the cutoff date we find that employment and earnings gradually diverged for the treated group after completion of the language program. The effect was significant and resulted in four percentage points permanently higher employment and almost USD 2,510 in extra yearly earnings over eighteen years. We do not find temporary or permanent labor market effects of cutting welfare benefits, but we find evidence of temporarily higher property crime when refugees received lower benefits. We also find that children of refugees who received enhanced language classes were more likely to complete lower secondary school and less likely to commit crime.

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Suggested Citation

Nielsen Arendt, Jacob and Bolvig, Iben and Foged, Mette and Hasager, Linea and Peri, Giovanni, Integrating Refugees: Language Training or Work-First Incentives? (March 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26834, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3550983

Jacob Nielsen Arendt (Contact Author)

Rockwool Foundation Research Unit ( email )

Sejroegade 11
DK-2100 Copenhagen
Denmark

Iben Bolvig

Aarhus University ( email )

Nordre Ringgade 1
DK-8000 Aarhus C, 8000
Denmark

Mette Foged

University of Copenhagen, Department of Economics ( email )

Oester Farigmagsgade 5, Building 26
Copenhagen K, 1353
+45 35323582 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ku.dk/foged/default.htm

Linea Hasager

University of Copenhagen ( email )

Nørregade 10
Copenhagen, København DK-1165
Denmark

Giovanni Peri

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States
530-752-3033 (Phone)
530-752-9382 (Fax)

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