Refugees succeeding in America – study
Refugees are finding success and prosperity in the US by working hard and finding economic niches, a new study has found.
The research, by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), found that refugees in the US are also increasing their educational standing and ability to speak English.
They also experience rapid earnings growth and they commit far fewer criminal offenses than the US-born people.
Refugee admissions to the US reached historic lows under the Trump administration but have increased under President Joe Biden.
“Real earnings for refugees increased by 70 per cent in the 10 years after arriving in the United States, showing refugees integrate and make economic progress in America,” the research paper said.
“Our research finds refugees have low rates of incarceration and, over time, significantly increase their education level, use less welfare and improve their ability to speak English.”
The research examined more than 30 years of data and found refugees start with lower earnings but, on average, over ten years, have far higher real earnings growth than other workers – 70 per cent for refugees compared to 25 per cent for the US-born people.
The study examined earnings growth and Census and immigration data on individuals aged 21 to 54 who entered America from countries with a high per centage of refugee admissions over five-year periods from 1985 to 2009.
The US president determines the annual ceiling for refugees, in consultation with Congress, and the U.S. Department of State administers the refugee program.
“Like other immigrants, refugees improve with time in the United States, particularly by investing in their skills and education, explaining why a dynamic analysis presents a more accurate picture of refugee integration than snapshots taken soon after refugees arrive,” the study said.
Iraqis who came to America between 2005 and 2009 had real earnings growth of 127 per cent over the next decade, compared to 25 per cent for US-born workers.
Afghans who came to the United States between 1985 and 1989 after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan saw 98 per cent growth in real earnings over the next 10-year period, compared to 35 per cent for US-born workers.
Vietnamese who arrived in America between 1985 and 1989 experienced 89 per cent real earnings growth over the next decade.
“Refugees succeed in America because they add value to the US economy and benefit Americans. Due to their rapid income growth, within a decade, refugees generally no longer have low incomes,” the study said.
“Refugees show they adapt to the US labour market and overcome the circumstances that drove them from their countries of birth.
“Refugees invest in US-specific skills, find niches and make the US economy more dynamic by adapting to existing needs and providing services that we didn’t know were desired or needed, such as by founding or working in new restaurants, nail salons and other businesses,” it said.
Refugees also improve their English and raise their educational level, according to the research. About 20 per cent of refugees aged 21 to 54 attend school soon after arriving in America.
More than 83 per cent of refugees coming to the US between 1985 and 2009 spoke English a year or more after arrival, which rose to 92 per cent a decade later.
Nearly half of refugees arriving between 1985 and 2009 spoke English well a year or more after arriving. That rose to 66 per cent ten years later, or 35 per cent more.
The study found refugees enter America at relatively high levels of education and improve with more time in the United States.
“In the year after arrival, 21.7 per cent of refugees arriving between 1985 and 2009 had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 26.5 per cent for the US-born. Ten years later, 28.2 per cent of refugees arriving between 1985 and 2009 had a bachelor’s degree, an increase of 30 per cent.”
Remarkably, the number of Ethiopians who came to America between 1985 and 1989 with a bachelor’s degree increased from 17 per cent in 1990 to 45 per cent by 2000, rising more than 150 per cent.
Seventy per cent of refugees arriving in the US between 1985 and 2009 had a high school degree or higher compared to 89 per cent for the US-born. After 10 years, 76 per cent of refugees who arrived during this period earned a high school degree or higher, rising by 9 per cent.
Refugees appear to commit relatively few crimes with only 0.2 per cent of refugees arriving in the US between 1985 and 2009 were in jail or prison a year or more after entry compared to 1.3 per cent for US-born people.
And incarceration rates remain low for refugees 10 years later, the study said.
It said the more time refugees spend in the US, the less likely they are to use welfare.
On average, after 10 years, refugee use of welfare declined by 63 per cent for those arriving between 1985 and 2009 – 9.4 per cent in the year after arrival to 3.5 per cent a decade later.
“The rapid earnings growth of refugees and their improving levels of education and ability to speak English show they integrate into American society, fill niches and expand the economy, rewarding the American people for welcoming them to a new land,” the study said.