The integration of refugees and economic migrants in the U.S. from 1845 to 2017.
Research shows that refugees in the United States experience faster economic growth than other immigrants, in part because they have limited incentive to return home. However, this pattern has primarily been documented in the late 20th century, making it unclear whether faster economic assimilation is an inherent characteristic of refugee flows, or whether it is unique to recent decades. This paper uses data between 1850 and 2017 to compare the economic assimilation of refugee cohorts to economic cohorts. I find that after 1900, refugee cohorts start off at a lower average occupational prestige than both their economic immigrant and native-born counterparts upon arrival, but refugees economically assimilate at a faster rate and, in some periods, overtake the occupational prestige of economic immigrants after two decades. Older arrival periods display more complex patterns of assimilation where refugees do not always start off below natives or assimilate more quickly with more years of stay.