Our Projects
Many countries require asylum seekers to wait for months or years before entering the local labor market. How does this period of forced unemployment affect their ability to integrate later on? A natural experiment in Germany reveals that asylum seekers who face longer wait times are less likely to be employed, even after a decade in the country.
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With greater recognition that prenatal care is essential for newborns’ health, more states have expanded coverage to include unauthorized immigrant women. While motivated by concern for future U.S. citizen children, these programs have long-term, life-changing benefits for mothers as well.
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Countries receiving refugees could pave the way for integration by sending them to the place where it would be easiest for them to find employment. Using historical data from the United States and Switzerland, IPL designed an algorithm that matches refugees to their optimal city or town. It’s a policy innovation that could be easily implemented anywhere in the world and at virtually no cost.
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Gaining citizenship can bring profound, lifelong benefits, but this door to opportunity remains closed to many low-income immigrants. What forms of assistance and encouragement lift the barriers to naturalization? To find out, we’ve partnered with local government in developing an innovative program offering vouchers and other incentives to citizenship-eligible residents of New York, home to the nation’s second-largest immigrant population.
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Should unauthorized immigrants who were brought to the United States as children be granted permission to live and work in the country? In the heated debate over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), it is often overlooked that these young adults are also raising children who are U.S. citizens. IPL examined the intergenerational health effects of DACA to find out how these children's lives change when their parents no longer fear being deported.
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In a classic immigration debate, one side argues that citizenship should be a reward for integration, available only after many years of residency; the other says it makes immigrants more likely to integrate and should happen soon after they arrive. Three decades of data from Switzerland, IPL researchers found, strongly support the second camp. The earlier one receives citizenship, the greater the benefits for both the immigrant and society—especially for the most marginalized groups.
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When California moved to make driver’s licenses available to unauthorized residents, critics raised an outcry: the law, they said, would flood the roads with inexperienced, uninsured drivers and lead to more accidents. Two years and more than 800,000 licenses later, those fears are largely unfounded, IPL researchers found. Our study also revealed a 10 percent decrease in the rate of hit-and-run accidents in the law’s first year, which adds up to savings of $3.5 million in out-of-pocket expenses for California drivers.
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Despite rising nationalism and anti-Muslim sentiment, most Europeans would prefer a humane and cooperative asylum system over the restrictive policies of the far right. IPL research reveals an untapped well of support for refugees and a strong mandate for reform.
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Asylum seekers often are left in limbo while their applications are processed, and the prolonged uncertainty and discouragement take a toll. According to IPL analysis of records from Switzerland, the years spent waiting make them less likely to find a job when they’re finally approved. Countries receiving refugees should take note: reducing wait times could boost their employment rates and benefit the local economy.
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