September 05, 2019

Syrian refugees are not negatively affecting Jordan’s labor market

Syrian refugees are not negatively affecting Jordan’s labor market

New research reveals that the “Jordan Compact”—an agreement Jordan signed with the EU in 2016 which allows Syrian refugees to enter legal employment in their host nation in return for humanitarian aid, financial assistance, and trade concessions from the EU—has not had a negative effect on Jordanian jobs or wages.

Since the conflict in Syria began in 2011, more than 6.3 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries and elsewhere. Jordan shares a border with Syria and has received a substantial number of refugees. Around 1.3 million Syrians live in Jordan, which has a total population of 6.6 million.

Researchers from Southampton University, Palestine Polytechnic University, and St. Catherine University in Minnesota, USA, including IZA World of Labor author Jackline Wahba, have been studying the effects of such a large influx of refugees on the local Jordanian labor market and have found that Jordanians living in areas with high concentrations of refugees have no worse labor market outcomes than Jordanians with less exposure to the refugee influx. The result holds for unemployment levels, hours, wages, and characteristics of employment (such as sector, occupation, and formality of the work undertaken).

Writing in The Conversation, Wahba says the results “suggest that providing legal work opportunities to refugees is not detrimental to the native job market.” She says that the flow of foreign aid into Jordan and the conditions of the Jordan Compact, which included aid and trade concessions and employment support for Jordanians, may have played an important role in creating labor demand for Jordanians.

“[I]t is vital to ensure sufficient resources and public services are in place to support refugees and the host economy,” she says.

Jackline Wahba’s IZA World of Labor article, “Who benefits from return migration to developing countries,” can be found here.