Discussion Paper

No. 2017-61 | September 15, 2017
Forced migrants: labour market integration and entrepreneurship
(Submitted as Global Solutions Paper)


In 2015, worldwide forced displacement was at its highest recorded level, surpassing 65 million. Out of this number, nearly 20 million people are those who fled their countries of origin to seek refuge in third countries. International responsibility sharing in terms of hosting the historical levels of refugee flows has so far been inadequate. Today, lower- and upper-middle income countries host 65 percent of the world’s refugees, mostly in urban settings. Whereas refugee camps provide access to basic needs such as shelter, food and healthcare, displaced individuals living in urban settings have to sustain their needs through their own means. In turn, this requires access to labour market. To facilitate formal labour market integration of refugees in host countries, the authors call on G20 to mobilize the private sector in developing sustainable solutions for the global refugee crisis, endorse a “Virtual Observatory for Refugee Integration” to be operated by the participation of domestic policy think tanks in refugee hosting countries to monitor and to advocate private sector based policies for the integration of refugees around the world, and encourage its members and host communities to initiate startup visa programmes for refugees.

JEL Classification:

J15, J61


  • Downloads: 1116


Cite As

Güven Sak, Timur Kaymaz, Omar Kadkoy, and Murat Kenanoglu (2017). Forced migrants: labour market integration and entrepreneurship. Economics Discussion Papers, No 2017-61, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2017-61

Comments and Questions

Anonymous - Two comments on this article
September 16, 2017 - 11:28

1. Figure 1 is quite difficult to understand. I believe the authors should clarify the axes and describe the figure into some more detail in the main text.

2. The authors may link their study to the recent suggestive evidence that volunteering is an important pathway for ethnic minorities' ...[more]

... labour market integration:

Baert, S., Vujić, S. (2016): Immigrant Volunteering: A Way Out of Labour Market Discrimination? Economics Letters, 146, 95-98.

Güven Sak, Timur Kaymaz, Omar Kadkoy, and Murat Kenanoglu - Response
December 11, 2017 - 13:02

The title of figure 1 explains the details of the axes and thank you for your suggestion.

Jiddah M.A. Ajayi - Re Forced Migrants
September 18, 2017 - 11:31

it is quite insightful,educative,and has brought to the fore,the impact of forced migrants,i strongly recommend it.

Anonymous - Comment
October 10, 2017 - 15:02

The refugee issue, especially the harm to innocent people, and the crisis of political leadership it has generated, cry out for new thinking. The numerous policy ideas offered in the paper by Guven Sak et al are a very welcome contribution to the discussion of shared responsibility for refugees ...[more]

... and what front line states can do to allow refugees to enhance their own well-being and prospects while making a productive contribution to the economies of those states.

Anonymous - Comment
October 30, 2017 - 08:53

The article reflects the general context and the current situation very realistically. It also provides a positive perspective towards the involvement of the private sector. The recommendations are grounded, practical and feasible. However as UNHCR we always would like to underline the distinction between a migrant and refugee hence the ...[more]

... use of the term `Refugee` is essential in order to make the point as the legal statuses, rights and obligations are entirely different. The text states this difference however, the title might be misleading.

Güven Sak, Timur Kaymaz, Omar Kadkoy, and Murat Kenanoglu - Response
December 11, 2017 - 12:59

Indeed, we should keep the distinction between a migrant and a refugee. This is why we used the term ‘forced migrants’ to indicate that our paper targets the labor market integration policies of the forcibly displaced population.

Anonymous - Comment
October 30, 2017 - 09:05

The article touches upon a very important subject. The access of refugees to labor markets in the host countries is of prime importance.
New and innovative methods are being searched everywhere and this article makes important contributions to this global efforts.
The main idea of the article is based on ...[more]

... what is called “Jordan compact” which is about creating job opportunities in special economic zones which would be empowered by investments from EU countries.
I would make few remarks on first the substance of the idea, and on some points in the article.
The idea, if I remember correctly, originated by the distinguished academic from Oxford, Prof. Alexandre Betts and implemented by Jordan in cooperation with UK.

Although it is useful, the idea has some weak points. Creating job opportunities Such isolated places would not lead a genuine integration but could lead new isolations and divisions between the refugees and host communities.This has been proved, as the article indicates in the case of Jordan.

The article on the other hand approaches the issue solely from an economic perspective and did not discuss important issue of the lack of legal status of refugees in the host neighboring countries. It did not mention the right to work and fail to analyze the issue in the broader framework of refugee law.

However, in the time of urgent crisis, this idea promoted in the article is of high value and the article deserves to be shared by wider audience through the e-journal Economics.

Güven Sak, Timur Kaymaz, Omar Kadkoy, and Murat Kenanoglu - Response
December 11, 2017 - 12:57

Usually, SEZs are established in remote locations, but adjacent to ports, rail or highway networks to facilitate the transfer of materials. In return, this requires providing the services of accommodation or transfer to and from the SEZs. In the case of Jordan, the public transportation infrastructure couldn’t meet the demand ...[more]

... and companies operating in the SEZs may not have shuttle services. Moreover, the workers in Jordan SEZs are foreigners with an overwhelming majority from Southeast Asia and Egypt. Therefore, and had employers been successful in employing Syrians in the designated SEZs, there wouldn’t have been much of an interaction with the host communities.

The neighboring countries of Syria, with the exception of Turkey, are not parties to the Geneva 1951 Refugee Convention. Therefore, the governments in the respective countries don’t recognize Syrians as asylum seekers. Consequently, they can’t be granted the status of refugees. If we keep in mind the restrictive labor markets to foreigners in especially Lebanon and Jordan, the task to safeguard the right to work becomes more complex and requires generating large scale and inclusive job opportunities. The Jordan Compact is one example and we certainly can learn from it to improve the idea elsewhere in the future.