KNOMAD Study “Refugees’ Right to Work and Access to Labor Markets – An Assessment”

KNOMAD Study “Refugees’ Right to Work and Access to Labor Markets – An Assessment”

​October 2016

Hanspeter Wyss, Senior Program Officer, Washington DC, KNOMAD, World Bank


Part I of this KNOMAD Study provides a synthesis of all the country case studies. Three metrics analyze the principle determinants of the right to work and labor market access: refugee and employment law, policies and practices that facilitate or constrain the right to work, and mediating socioeconomic conditions. Overall the study finds remarkable diversity in legal provisions and constraints on refugees’ right to work. A restrictive approach to the right to work prevails, and most states are reluctant to ease these restrictions. The majority of refugees work in the informal sector, but under much less satisfactory and more exploitative conditions compared with nationals. Informal labor markets are also constrained in countries with fragile economies which often host large numbers of refugees. Based on its findings, the Study concludes that more national and international coordination is required, multiple actors should share in the responsibility to deliver decent work, labor market policies as well as training and education should be harnessed to support sustainable livelihoods, and refugee social capital should be more effectively engaged.

Part II of this Study contains case studies for the following countries:

  • Bangladesh
  • Ecuador
  • Ethiopia
  • Germany
  • India
  • The Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Lebanon
  • Pakistan
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • República Bolivariana de Venezuela


Related resources:

http://www.knomad.org/publications