Refugee Resettlement and Integration Outcomes

Awarded Scholars:
Justin Gest, George Mason University
Jeremy Ferwerda, Dartmouth College
Project Date:
Jul 2016
Award Amount:

Jointly funded with the MacArthur Foundation

Recent research has demonstrated that refugees face unique challenges with respect to employment, language attainment, and institutional racism. However, most studies have methodological shortcomings, including small sample sizes, idiosyncratic features, and use data from the 90-day mandatory reporting window. As a result, their findings are not generalizable, primarily because it is very difficult to collect longitudinal data from a mobile, securitized population. Understanding the factors that promote the integration of refugees is essential in light of the Obama Administration’s commitment to increase annual resettlement to 100,000 refugees. 

Political scientists Justin Gest and Jeremy Ferwerda will identify the resettlement locations and programs that are associated with the best outcomes for refugees, and analyze how optimal environments for resettlement vary according to refugees’ background characteristics. They will leverage the quasi-random character of the refugee assignment process by focusing on refugees within the U.S. Refugee Admissions program who lack existing family ties (known as “free cases”), which will allow them to study different outcomes between similar individuals who are placed in different cities and neighborhoods based on local capacity and time of arrival.


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