Immigration, Labor Markets and Discrimination Evidence from the Venezuelan Exodus in Perú

Andre Groeger, Gianmarco León-Ciliotta, and Steven Stillman

World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, No. 9982 (2022)


The number of Venezuelans living in Peru increased from 6,615 in 2016 to around 1,000,000 by 2021, increasing the population of Peru by around 2 percent. This paper estimates the effect of labor market conditions on self-reported discrimination against Venezuelan immigrants in Peru, and whether the presence of Venezuelan immigrants affects residents’ labor market outcomes, overall criminal activity, or residents’ perceptions about crime and their local community.

The analysis draws on several data sources including: (a) a specialized survey of Venezuelans living in Peru capturing information about their location as well as their experiences of discrimination and hostility from residents; (b) a nationally representative household survey collected monthly covering demographics, educational attainment, labor market conditions, crime victimization, and perceptions of the main problems in the country and trust in institutions; (c) the Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) and Gallup World Poll (GWP) opinion surveys; (d) district-level administrative data on Venezuelan immigrants registered to obtain access to social services; and (e) Peruvian census data, including the overall population and the share of workers in the formal and informal sector in each locality.

Main results:

  • Weaker informal labor markets lead to a significant increase in the discrimination reported by Venezuelans in Peru. More than a third of Venezuelans reported having experienced discrimination, with variation across and within municipalities. Overall, a 10 percent decrease in the informal employment rate increases discrimination by 2.3-3 percent. This effect is twice as large for men as for women.
  • Weaker informal labor markets lead to more discrimination for men in public places and on public transport and, for women on public transport. Weaker informal labor markets do not appear to lead to an increase in workplace discrimination for either sex.
  • Increased immigration from Venezuela has a positive impact on labor market outcomes for Peruvians, including increased employment rates, incomes and expenditure in locations that receive more Venezuelans.
  • Locations that receive more Venezuelan immigrants have lower levels of reported non-violent crime, improved reported quality of local services, greater reported trust in neighbors, and higher reported community quality.
  • In locations with more Venezuelans, Peruvians report that their community likes diversity less.

The authors suggest several policy implications suggested by these results. First, policies that reduce the stigmatization of foreigners should be a first order concern for policymakers, especially in areas with low informal employment rates. Second, policymakers should take into account the improvements in labor market outcomes, the reduced levels of crime and better community life outcomes deriving from the presence of the Venezuelans, when considering the introduction of policies to limit immigration