The Impact of Refugees on Native Students’ Academic Achievement and Post-secondary Education

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2203 SS&H (Andrews Conference Room) | UC Davis

The number of asylum seekers worldwide has reached its highest point in history. Over 120,000 refugees entered the U.S. including large numbers of children and there is uncertainty about how this inflow will affect native children’s schooling outcomes. To fill this gap in the literature, this paper studies how the largest inflow of refugees in U.S. history –Indochinese refugees at the end of the Vietnam War – affected U.S. children by examining whether native children’s academic achievement was lower in ZIP Codes with higher shares of refugees using the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS88), the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and U.S. Census data. Preliminary results suggest that, on average, there is no effect on native’s academic achievement, there is a small increase in the likelihood of graduating from high school, and there is a small reduction in the likelihood of obtaining an associate degree. Moreover, the effects are stronger for native students in disadvantaged conditions.

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CynthiaCynthia van der Werf
Ph.D student, Economics 

Cynthia van der Werf is a Ph.D candidate in the Economics department. Her research focuses on the economic integration of immigrants and the spillovers between newcomers and natives. Currently, she is studying whether the timing of language acquisition affects adult refugees’ dynamic labor market outcomes of adult refugees in Denmark; her findings shed light on the effect of language skills on the likelihood of being employed, earnings trajectories, and occupation in the short and long run. In other research, she is investigating the impact of the inflow of refugees on the U.S. education system. In particular, she is interested in establishing if an inflow of refugees changes native's school choice and in determining if it affects the quality of the education they receive.

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