Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation consists of three essays that explore the relationship between the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program and the economic integration process of Iraqi refugees and immigrants in the United States. I utilize a mixed-method approach to explore the labor force activity and resettlement experiences of Iraqi refugees and immigrants. In the first paper, I explore the relationship between refugees and resettlement service providers using data obtained from interviews with service providers and multi-site participant observation at two resettlement agencies. The results indicate that ethnicity and gender have a critical influence in shaping the provision and utilization of resettlement services. In the second paper, I analyze the responses from face-to-face interviews I conducted with recently-arrived Iraqi refugees to identify the primary obstacles to socio-economic mobility they encountered during their initial resettlement in the United States. My findings suggest that the intersections of ethnicity, class, and gender interact to influence the labor force experiences of Iraqi refugees by informing job preferences and employability in the local labor market. The roles of ethnic-based social networks and institutional policies, as key components of the mode of reception, shape the refugees' decision-making processes related to housing, education, and employment. In the third paper, I use data from a pooled sample of the 2005-2012 American Community Surveys to examine the determinants of socio-economic status of Iraqis by gender and ethnicity, and to explore their variation in labor market activity by U.S. metropolitan level Iraqi immigrant population composition. The implications from the results are that the type of employment and earnings of Iraqi immigrants and refugees are significantly affected according to the degree of Iraqi residential composition. The empirical results indicate that this effect of Iraqis on socio-economic status varies by ethnicity and gender. These essays contribute to the field of sociology by adding to our understanding of how the involvement of the government and intermediary agents in the refugee resettlement process shapes the refugee's socio-economic trajectory, by contributing to the knowledge base of Iraqi socio-economic status in the U.S. within the field of migration studies, and by identifying the dynamic interactions between nationality, ethnicity, class, and gender in the labor market.
Lee, Alicia Jeanette, "Essays on the Challenges to Labor Market Entry for Iraqi Refugees and Immigrants in the United States" (2014). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 1338.