Improved integration of female refugees? – An evaluation of the Establishment reform
preprintposted on 19.03.2021, 16:42 by Alma Wennemo Lanninger
It may take several years for a refugee in Sweden to establish on the labor market. The slow establishment is particularly problematic for female refugees. Compared to men, low-skilled women and women with young children experience major disadvantages. In Sweden, refugees were offered a voluntary program with measures to ease the integration into the labor market. On December 1, 2010, the enacting of the so-called Establishment reform, which was carried out in order to speed up the refugees’ labor market entry, changed that program. Newly arrived refugees were then offered participation in an Establishment program at the Public Employment service instead of an Introduction program offered by the municipalities. This study provides an evaluation of the Establishment reform. The aim is to analyze the employment rates two and three years after enrollment in the program. The applied approach is to compare the outcome for the refugees participating in the Introduction program with the outcome for the refugees participating in the Establishment program, while controlling for important observables. This is possible by using Swedish register data on all immigrants given residence permit in Sweden 2009-2011. The findings from the evaluation provide evidence that the Establishment reform has had a small but significant effect on the probability of being employed. Those participating in the Establishment program showed higher employment rates compared to participants in the previous Introduction program. This association was evident for both women and men. Among low-skilled women, co-resident mothers, and women with young children, no significant increase in the probability of being employed was observed. It thereby seems like the reform at large has had a positive effect but that more effort is needed for those with the initially largest disadvantages.