An Economic Case for Refugees

We are in the Largest Refugee Crisis

You may have heard it before: we have more people displaced in the world than ever before, this number includes refugees. Just my like sisters, children currently make up more than half of the world’s refugees, and women and girls also make up half of the world’s refugees. The increasing number of refugees is due to long standing conflicts that have displaced millions of people in Africa and the Middle East. Providing economic opportunities for refugees also provides opportunities for children including education and healthcare. Protecting refugee children has been called a test of our humanity.

An Economic Case for Refugees

Accepting, protecting and supporting refugees is a win-win-win formula: for the refugees themselves, for the country of destination and for the country of origin.

  • It’s estimated that for every euro spent on refugees, the European economy will grow by more than 1.84 euros within five years.
  • The OECD assessed the impact of immigrants on its members’ finances in 2007–09. It found they made a net average fiscal contribution of around 0.35 percent of GDP, with little variation from country to country.
  • Utica, New York, is known as “the town that loves refugees.” Why? Welcoming in refugees turned around Utica’s economic decline.
  • In Lebanon, every 1-percent increase in Syrian refugees increases Lebanese service exports by 1.5 percent.
  • The real GDP in the average Nordic country will be about 2.5 percent higher by 2020 if migration continues.

Removing Barriers, Unlocking Potential

The faster refugees integrate into the labor force, the faster they can become productive members of society, and not just as employees. In the United States, for example, while refugees are 15 percent of the population, they represent 25 percent of all entrepreneurs. By creating new businesses, refugees also create new jobs for everyone. In the United States, it’s small businesses like these that create about 1.5 million jobs every year.

  • Refugees are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to immigrants
  • Refugees report poor language skills as a barrier to securing work
  • Refugees holding doctoral degrees in medicine, pharmacy or dentistry were unable to find matching jobs after an average of 1.8 years in the United States

A Pathway to Success

When we provide refugees with equitable access to opportunities both refugees and the U.S. benefit. How can we provide equitable access?

We Can Do Better

My father fought to keep his family safe and in doing so, became an example of the ‘American dream.’ My mother, an immigrant herself, emigrated to America in the hopes of creating a better life.



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Katica Roy

Katica Roy


CEO of Pipeline Equity | Gender Economist | Award-Winning Leader | On a mission to achieve gender equity, once and for all.