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Working Paper No. 1398

Low-Skilled Jobs, Language Proficiency and Refugee Integration: An Experimental Study

Working Paper
Ek, Simon, Mats Hammarstedt and Per Skedinger (2021). “Low-Skilled Jobs, Language Proficiency and Refugee Integration: An Experimental Study”. IFN Working Paper No. 1398. Stockholm: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN).

Simon Ek, Mats Hammarstedt, Per Skedinger

We study the causal effects of previous experience and language skills when newly arrived refugees in Sweden apply for job openings by means of a field experiment. Applications were sent from randomly assigned fictitious Syrian refugees with experience in jobs with low skill requirements and completed language training in Swedish to employers advertising low-skilled job vacancies.

We find no evidence of sizeable effects from previous experience or completed language classes on the probability of receiving callback from employers. However, female applicants were more likely than males to receive a positive response. We conclude that previous experience and completed language training seem to provide at best a small positive signaling value when refugees apply for low-skilled jobs through formal channels.


Mats Hammarstedt

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+46 (0)730 619 194

Per Skedinger

+46 (0)8 665 4553
+46 (0)70 486 0389