Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Predictors of Unemployment in Refugees

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Predictors of Unemployment in Refugees

Article excerpt

A high percentage of refugees depend on social security in Austria. Once granted asylum, unemployed refugees can receive welfare support for an unlimited period. Welfare authorities may assign refugees to training courses that teach a basic knowledge of German and job-finding skills.

Hansen and Lofstrom (2006) have shown that refugees contribute more than do other immigrants to the "immigrant-native welfare gap" (p. 23) in Sweden. In a Norwegian longitudinal study, Ekhaugen (2005) found that 63% of refugees still depended on social benefits in the third year of their stay and 55% of refugees still depended on social benefits in the eighth year of their stay. Jackering (2007) reported similar results for Germany.

Poor knowledge of the host country's language and lack of formal qualifications can be risk factors for unemployment (Kogan, 2003). Accordingly, Beiser and Hou (2001) pointed to the importance of command of the host country's language for finding work. Ward, Bochner, and Furnham (2006) indicated that language proficiency, a higher educational level, perceived social support, and a younger age increased refugees' chances of vocational integration. Ward et al. also emphasized that psychological symptoms, especially posttraumatic stress can be enhanced by unemployment and, in turn, reduce a refugee's chances of finding work. According to Faelli and Carless (1999), a longer time in Austria and a higher degree of perceived self-efficacy improved job prospects in a sample of immigrants from India to Austria.

Women are especially disadvantaged among refugees, as they are frequently denied access to the labor market and higher education in their countries of origin (Bloch, Galvin, & Harrell-Bond, 2000). Thus, as many women remain in their traditional roles as mothers and housewives, they suffer from social isolation (Bloch et al., 2000). However, women may also be more successful than men at overcoming initial vocational difficulties (Kofman, Phizacklea, Raghuram, & Sales, 2000).

Collectivist attitudes may also be a risk factor for unemployment, because collectivism mitigates the psychological consequences of being unemployed (Martella & Maass, 2000), and decreases the readiness to relocate to attain a job (Otto & Dalbert, 2012).

Our aim in the present study was to integrate the results reported in the literature into a more complex statistical model that would allow practitioners to predict an individual refugee's risk of continued unemployment. In accordance with the above findings, we expected a lower degree of collectivist values, a lower degree of clinical--and especially posttraumatic--stress symptoms, a younger age, a higher level of formal education, greater knowledge of the host country's language, a higher degree of perceived social support, a higher degree of self-efficacy, and a longer time in the country, to predict employment in a sample of jobless refugees in Austria. In addition, a number of sociodemographic variables (e.g., gender or country of origin) were used as possible predictors and we expected that attending training courses would improve refugees' chances of finding work.

Method

Participants

We recruited 83 unemployed legal refugees in Austria (41 men, 34 women,

and eight participants who did not state their gender) with the help of welfare officers and training course providers. Among this group 42 were attending training courses (with varying content, structure, and duration) for language and job-finding skills over several months and at three different sites. The remaining 41 did not attend such courses, but received social welfare. There was no significant difference between men and women attending courses. The participants' religion was diverse. In terms of country of origin, 34 came from Chechnya, 16 from Afghanistan, 10 from Africa, 10 from former communist countries (apart from Chechnya), and 13 from other countries. …

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