The Economic and Social Outcomes of Refugees in the United States: Evidence from the ACS

Report Author: 
William N. Evans & Daniel Fitzgerald
Original Date of Publication: 
August, 2017

Using an innovative technique to create "the largest sample of refugees analyzed to date" (ca. 20,000 refugees resettled in the United States between 1990 and 2014), this report attempts to determine the long-term fiscal and other impacts of refugee resettlement. The results suggest that, for the first eight years in the U.S., refugees receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes. After the eighth year, however, taxes paid tend to be greater than benefits received.  Over a 20-year period, refugees entering between the ages of 18 and 45 pay on average $21,000 more in taxes to all levels of government than they receive in benefits, although they have not attained the earnings level of native-born Americans.  The study also looks at educational outcomes for refugee children. Those who enter the U.S. before age 14 graduate high school and enter college at the same rate as native-born young people. Refugees who enter as older teenagers have lower educational attainment, probably because of difficulties with English language acquisition and the fact that many entered as unaccompanied minors. The authors contend that their findings call into question the argument of some commentators that the refugee program is too expensive because of its up-front costs. (American Immigrant Policy Portal)

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 Evidence from the ACS



Evans, W., & Fitzgerald, D. (2017). The Economic and Social Outcomes of Refugees in the United States: Evidence from the ACS (No. w23498). Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

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