Prison or Sanctuary? An Evaluation of Camps for Syrian Refugees Camps are one strategy to manage an influx of refugees. Host countries want to minimize effects on natives, but relief organizations worry that isolation reduces employment and self-reliance over time. Using a novel survey, I study Syrians in Jordan and Iraq, comparing camp residents to other refugees who self-settle in the same country. I identify the effects of camp residence with three strategies: selection on a rich set of observables, difference-in-differences with Lebanon where camps were never opened, and arrival before and after opening. I find that, after an average of three years in displacement, camps do reduce household income; however, the gap is less than the rent saved by living in a camp, and employment growth is similar over time. Combined with additional refugee outcomes, expenditure data, and the literature on general equilibrium effects, I argue that camps can be an efficient subsidy to refugees willing to opt out of urban areas.
Other Work in Progress
Impact of Syrian Refugees on Education Outcomes in Jordan (with Ragui Assaad and Mohamed Saleh) Mass influxes of refugees have potentially large effects on host countries. While labor market impacts are frequently studied, outcomes like children's education could also be affected. This paper examines the impact of Syrian refugees on the educational attainment of Jordanians. Combining detailed household surveys with school-level records on the density of Syrians, we study both quantity and quality of education for the hosts using a differences-in-differences design across refugee prevalence and birth cohort. We find no evidence that greater exposure to Syrian refugees affected the attainment of Jordanians; adding a second, donor-funded shift in high-Syrian areas appears sufficient to mitigate potential over-crowding.
Microenterprise Support to Integrate Refugees in Uganda (with Helidah Ogude) Many governments exclude refugees from the labor market to protect their citizens from a perceived negative effect on income. Uganda, the largest host country in Africa, takes a different approach: refugees are allowed to work and move freely, and in return, 30% of aid to refugees must support Ugandans. In this environment, we are conducting a randomized controlled trial to examine whether sharing aid between hosts and refugees engenders goodwill among host communities. We implement two programs for microentrepreneurs: cash grants and business trainings that facilitate inter-group contact. Our implementing partner is a non-profit led by refugees which explicitly connects the programs to the refugee presence. We measure social outcomes, including support for hosting additional refugees and allowing them to work, and economic outcomes like business profits to test whether effective development aid associated with refugees can induce support for inclusive hosting.
Supported by the UK-DFID Trust Fund ($300,000) and Innovations for Poverty Action's Peace and Recovery Fund ($9,840)
Moving to Safety: The Effects of Forced Migration on Children and Youth in Iraq What are the returns to migrating from a conflict zone? This paper examines educational attainment of children in Iraq, where more than 4% of the population has been displaced within Iraq since 2003. Using a 2012 representative household survey, I exploit variation in the age at displacement to measure the effects of migrating on education. I find that for every year in the destination, boys attain 0.3 additional years of education while girls see no average effect. Decomposing the results, the positive effects for boys are concentrated among poor households and driven by a decrease in work to support the household. The effect for girls, especially in wealthier households, depends on female attainment at the destination and self-reported social influences for leaving school.
HIV Prevention Among Youth: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and Male Condom Distribution in Rural Kenya (with Esther Duflo, Pascaline Dupas, Victor Pouliquen, and Vandana Sharma) [Embargoed]