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The U.S. refugee population not only has grown dramatically, but the countries from which the refugees are fleeing have also diversified over the last decade. Focusing on five recent refugee groups—Bhutanese, Burmese, Iraqis, Somalis, and Cubans, we examine how premigration characteristics and postmigration integration policies shape early socioeconomic integration in the United States. Our analyses point to three findings. First, early socioeconomic outcomes show only modest differences across refugee groups, despite significant variation in premigration selectivity in human capital. Second, the two possible pathways toward integration are schooling and employment. Third, postmigration integration policies matter. Our findings highlight the role of integration policies, programs, and practices in successful refugee integration, underscoring U.S. refugee policy as a key component of immigration policy.


This article was originally published in RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, available at

This work is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).



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