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Is there a refugee gap? Evidence from over a century of Danish naturalizations

Is there a refugee gap? Evidence from over a century of Danish naturalizations

506/2020 Nina Boberg-Fazlic and Paul Sharp
working papers,economic history

506/2020 Nina Boberg-Fazlic and Paul Sharp

The “refugee gap” in the economic status of refugees relative to other migrants might be due to the experience of being a refugee, or to government policy, which often denies the right to work during lengthy application processes. In Denmark before the Second World War, however, refugees were not treated differently from other migrants, motivating our use of a database of the universe of Danish naturalizations between 1851 and 1960. We consider labor market performance and find that immigrants leaving conflicts fared no worse than other migrants, conditional on other characteristics, within this relatively homogenous sample of those who attained citizenship. Refugees must be provided with the same rights as other migrants if policy aims to ensure their economic success.

Economic History