One Municipality Size Does Not Fit All: The Employment of Refugees Settled in Different Municipalities in Norway

Alicia Adsera , Princeton University
Synøve N. Andersen, Statistics Norway
Marianne Tønnessen, Statistics Norway

Refugees coming to Norway are assigned to a municipality where they start their integration into the Norwegian society. Municipalities are very diverse in their population size, centrality, labour market conditions, share of immigrants, housing characteristics etc., and thus offer very different contexts for refugees’ access to employment. Using rich register data, we study how the ‘optimal’ municipality for refugees’ integration into the labour market (both at extensive and intensive margins) varies by gender and education. Results show that those assigned to small and medium sized municipalities in central areas are more likely to be employed five years after assignment. Location matters more for low skilled refugees. As high skilled refugees have a higher likelihood of being employed, we focus on how earnings and job quality vary by location in this group. Low skilled men seem to benefit from being assigned to municipalities with a large share of non-western immigrants, but suffer more than both women and high skilled men from being assigned to municipalities with high unemployment rates (especially in central locations). The Norwegian introductory program improves the labour market prospects of low skilled women.

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 Presented in Session 71. Immigrants' Structural Integration I: Labour Market