The Labor Market Effects of Refugee Waves: Reconciling Conflicting Results

Michael A. Clemens and Jennifer Hunt

CEP Discussion Papers, No. 1491 (2017)


Recent research has challenged the consensus that sudden inflows of refugees have little or no impact on natives’ wages and employment, claiming instead that there are uniformly large detrimental effects on natives without school qualifications. The authors offer two new explanations for the conflicting results in the literature: one is large compositional changes in the underlying survey data introduced by the selection of narrow subgroups of workers to study; the other is specification choices in the use of instrumental variables. The authors conclude that the impact of immigration on average native-born workers is small, and fails to substantiate claims of large detrimental impacts on workers with less than high school educations.