The labor market reintegration of returned refugees in Afghanistan

The labor market reintegration of returned refugees in Afghanistan

Even though Afghanistan remains one of the top origin countries of refugees around the world, a considerable number of refugees have also returned over the last three decades. This paper investigates the labor market outcomes of those returned refugees from Iran and Pakistan, motivated by the fact that their reintegration greatly depends on the ability to access sustainable income-generating activities as a basis of their livelihood. The analysis relies on cross-sectional data from an original household survey collected in five provinces of Afghanistan in 2011. The analytical approach is two-fold: first, to compare returned refugees to non-migrantsin regard to what influences their respective labor market outcomes; and second, to investigate the influence o fthe returnees’ migration and return experience on those outcomes. We find evidence that returned refugees are less likely to be wage employed in comparison to non-migrants and that those factors related to socio-economic status including educational attainment, and the strength of social networks plays an influential role in labor market outcomes. When it comes to the migration and return experience of returnees, a few key factors are found to be of particular consequence for current employment status including employment prior to migration, time abroad, amount of savings brought back upon return, return assistance, and intentions to re-migrate.These findings help to shed light on the reintegration process of returned refugees in Afghanistan, an issue of growing concern for policymakers taking into consideration the recent increase in return flows.