2019-2020 Events

Zofia Wlodarczyk | Escaping Domestic Violence in the Time of Conflict: How Do Female Refugees Decide to Flee?

Female refugees escaping domestic violence seem largely invisible amongst larger groups of refugees given their unclear legal situation and dichotomously-oriented policy making. In this study, I bring together literature from the sociology of migration and gender to explore how women who experience family abuse decide to flee their countries of origin in times of political conflict and persecution. How does flight from domestic violence interact with refugee migration? What roles do macro, meso, and micro forces play in triggering and perpetuating domestic-violence related migration during times of conflict when refugee flows are ongoing? Through an analysis of twenty biographical interviews with female Chechen refugees in Poland, I argue that political conflict can be both a source of and an escape from domestic violence. I find that an ongoing conflict can strengthen the patriarchal patterns present in a community or lead to a degeneration of those customs. At the same time, for many Chechen women, the refugee flow that grew out of political conflict also facilitated a way out of abusive relationships via the possibility of international escape. This phenomenon was observed at macro, meso and micro levels.

The Cumulative Effect of Early Investments in the Language Skills of Refugees

Refugees who acquire local human capital and are easier to employ and contribute more to the creation of income and to the tax revenues of the host country. We evaluate a reform that substantially expanded language learning provision for humanitarian migrants in Denmark in their first years after arrival. The policy change only applied to immigrants obtaining residency after January 1st 1999. Labor market outcomes of refugees with access to more extensive language training upon arrival gradually diverge from the control group. The impact on earnings and employment is significant after six years and accumulates into one additional year in employment and USD 50,000 in additional earnings, more than offsetting the cost of the additional language learning provision. 

Josh Grelewicz | Are Occupational Licensing Restrictions Binding for Undocumented Immigrants? Evidence from California

Undocumented immigrants face substantial legal barriers to employment in the United States. Besides work authorization, federal law prevents states from issuing occupational and professional licenses to undocumented immigrants, potentially hampering their occupational mobility. Using a recent policy change that granted undocumented immigrants access to licenses in California, I estimate the effect of these restrictions on immigrant labor market outcomes. First, I find that licensing reform increased access to licenses: after 2016, licensing grew more quickly among workers with Hispanic names than other groups, and self-reported licensing increased 2 percentage points among imputed undocumented workers relative to other groups. Next, I find positive labor market effects on undocumented workers: comparing California to other states, undocumented immigrant wages and employment increase more in more heavily licensed occupations after the reform. These results suggest that licensing restrictions are a meaningful barrier to employment for undocumented immigrants.

Briana Ballis | Does Peer Motivation Influence Schooling Investments? Evidence from DACA

In this paper, Briana Ballis examines the spillover effects of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). This policy significantly increased the returns to schooling for undocumented youth, leaving the returns for everyone else unchanged. Leveraging administrative data from Los Angeles schools and variation in the concentration in DACA-eligible youth across schools, I also find significant positive effects of DACA on high school completion and student achievement among ineligible peer groups.