What is the evidence for improving the employment outcomes of refugee women through employment programs?

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Evidence Summary
December 2020

There is a lack of evidence about the impact of employment programs on employment rates for either refugee women or men.

  • A 2015 comprehensive systematic review of the effects of interventions on refugees’ labor force participation rate, employment rate, use of cash assistance, income, job retention, and quality of life identified no studies for inclusion due to methodological weaknesses. Consequently, the review did not find any evidence for or against any intervention. This review included programs serving both women and men. Several subsequent suggestive studies of refugee women’s entrepreneurial activities and gig economy work have found inconclusive results.
  • Several interventions have been found to be effective at improving labor market outcomes of low-income adults in general. The strategies that appear most effective are financial incentives and sanctions, education, work experience, and training. Interventions that combine several strategies to help low-income workers find and keep jobs appear more effective than any single strategy.

Rigorous research on the effectiveness of employment programs for both male and female resettled refugees is needed.

  • Given that early self-sufficiency through employment is a primary goal of the U.S. refugee resettlement program, evaluations of the impact of employment programs are critically needed.
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