Labor Market Activities of Syrian Refugees in Turkey - Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Labor Market Activities of Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Aysegul Kayaoglu and M. Murat Erdogan

February, 2019


24 pages

J4. Particular Labor Markets
E2. Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy
J6. Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
J1. Demographic Economics
J. Labor and Demographic Economics

Drawing on data from a survey of 1,235 Syrian refugees, this article examines individual, cohort and province-level factors associated with both their labor market activities (employment, unemployment and inactivity) and occupation statuses in the Turkish labor market. In the sample, only 38.6% of Syrians are employed and 50.4% of those who are working are either in irregular, seasonal jobs or work as an unpaid family worker. We find that those who are younger, men, having a diploma higher than secondary school and those who had higher income levels before migration and have better Turkish language proficiency, on average, have higher likelihood of being employed. Moreover, self-settlement is found to decrease the probability of being unemployed and increase the chance of being out of the labor market at the same time, compared to refugees living in temporary protection camps. Women at all ages are found to have higher probability of being inactive compared to men in the same age groups. For example, at age 30, women have 50 percentage point higher probability of being inactive when other control variables are held constant at their averages. Moreover, refugees who are women, having a higher-level of education and Turkish language proficiency are found to have higher likelihood of being employed as a regular worker. We also observe that there are some cohort and province specific factors that affect both labor market activity and job status. We see that later cohorts and those living in Bursa are more advantageous. Among the border provinces, Gaziantep is found to have better prospects for the employment of refugees in regular jobs.

Research Associates

Aysegul Kayaoglu

Assistant Professor of Economics at Istanbul Technical University


M. Murat Erdogan

Chair of Turkish German University (Istanbul-Turkey)



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