The Gender Disparity of Refugee Earnings in the United States


  • Subhadra Vadlamannati Mercer Island High School
  • Holly Dykstra Mentor, Harvard University



refugee, data science, gender gap, gender, wage gap, women, refugee women


The refugee crisis impacts both low and high-income countries alike, and the question of refugee assimilation receives much attention worldwide. While all refugees face various challenges in assimilating to their host countries, female refugees face additional challenges. This paper focuses on the earnings of refugees upon arrival to their host countries. The 2018 Annual Survey of Refugees was used to study the earnings trajectory of male and female refugees who arrive in the United States. Results reveal a significant earnings gap of approximately $1.70 an hour, which is equivalent in pay to male refugees receiving almost eight more years of schooling. To examine the underlying mechanism behind this result, this paper studies how the predicted earnings trajectory varies when including the UNDP Human Development Index and the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap variable, using refugees’ country of birth. Findings indicate robust results that female refugees do not benefit from increases in human development, while both male and female refugees benefit from increases in gender equality. These results have important implications for refugee policy in the form of cash assistance or vocational training.


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Author Biography

Holly Dykstra, Mentor, Harvard University

Dr. Holly Dykstra is an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Konstanz. She is a behavioral and experimental economist studying policy-relevant questions in individual decision-making, especially in household finance. She holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University and an A.B. in Economics from Columbia University.

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How to Cite

Vadlamannati, S., & Dykstra, H. (2021). The Gender Disparity of Refugee Earnings in the United States. Journal of Student Research, 10(4).



HS Research Articles