Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and Migration – MEDAM

The labour market integration of newly arrived asylum-seekers is still a live political issue, especially in view of the latest influx of refugees into the European Union. Drawing on lessons from the past, CEPS’ first contribution to the MEDAM project followed up on Bosnians who were displaced during the Bosnian war between 1992 and 1995. At that time, refugees entered the countries that are now bearing the brunt of the most recent wave of immigration, namely Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. CEPS’ study reveals several findings of interest. Germany expatriated almost all Bosnians right after the war, while most of the Bosnian refugees settled permanently in the other four countries. Employment outcomes differ across the countries studied. Early access to labour markets and low unemployment rates at the time of arrival – indicative of a favourable state of the labour market – are positively associated with medium- to long-term labour market outcomes among Bosnian refugees. Conversely, the level of education of Bosnians on arrival shows no strong association with labour market outcomes in the aggregate. Second-generation Bosnians, or those who arrived at a young age, perform roughly on a par with native-born cohorts, which is a sign of a completed integration process.