Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Refugee economic self-sufficiency in the US Resettlement Program
Author: Ott, Eleanor Marie
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 3244
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
Globally, twenty-seven countries have resettlement programs associated with UNHCR - representing commitments to the international refugee framework and domestic commitments to those refugees resettled. Since 1975, the US has resettled over three million refugees, including over 75,000 Bhutanese refugees since 2008 - more than all other countries combined on both accounts. The US Office of Refugee Resettlement has the mandate to 'make available sufficient resources for employment training and placement in order to achieve economic self-sufficiency among refugees as quickly as possible' (The Refugee Act of 1980). Nevertheless, their economic self-sufficiency and the intertwined ideas of employment and wellbeing remain little examined. A global systematic review of available high-quality evidence examined whether interventions affect resettled refugees' economic self-sufficiency and wellbeing. Although 9,260 citations were reviewed from a wide variety of academic, policy, and grey literature, no studies met inclusion criteria. This Campbell-registered systematic review concludes that evidence is insufficient to determine if programs affect resettled refugees' economic self-sufficiency and wellbeing. Subsequently, qualitative research explored existing interventions to improve the economic self-sufficiency of resettled refugees, their theories of change, and perceptions of effectiveness in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Program design follows a policy mandate and expects that initial employment leads to sustained self-sufficiency and wellbeing, albeit without measuring these outcomes or providing long-term assistance. The findings serve as a basis for future research and reveal programming implications for the Bhutanese refugee community in Pittsburgh and broadly for refugee resettlement. Next, a cross-sectional survey of 145 randomly selected Bhutanese refugees in Pittsburgh (a response rate of 92.9%) was conducted to provide groundbreaking demographics, rates of economic self-sufficiency, and correlates with improved outcomes. The population was overwhelmingly low-income with high usage of certain assistance such as food assistance. Both bivariate relationships and predictive models for employment, gross income, wages, assistance usage, and having 'enough' money to pay the bills were examined. Overall, these paint a complex picture, including the potential importance of neighborhoods, household size, and religious affiliation as well as a more typical picture of the importance of gender, education levels, and time in the country for certain measures of employment, earnings, and household self-sufficiency. The evidence-based perspective on the economic self-sufficiency of resettled refugees shows that little is known globally, including the potential for interventions to cause harm or success. Understanding the employment services and perspectives of economic self-sufficiency and wellbeing for the Bhutanese population provides a lens to view not only the challenges and successes of this population, but also national and international obligations. As one focus group participant stated, 'Government should understand the nature of the refugees arriving and put us with jobs that ... allow the life to sustain.'
Supervisor: Montgomery, Paul Sponsor: Rhodes Trust ; Truman Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social Sciences ; Development and Refugees (see also Sociology) ; Health (refugees) ; Integration ; Livelihoods (refugees) ; Psychosocial issues (refugees) ; Social policy & social work ; Evaluation of social policies,programmes and practice ; Poverty ; Social disadvantage ; Social services; associations ; Employment ; Ethnic minorities and ethnicity ; refugees ; resettlement ; Bhutanese ; evidence-based ; social intervention ; economic self-sufficiency