The current study examined employment rates and predictors of employment among Syrian refugees currently living in Lebanon and Jordan. This paper argues that men and women refugees have different experiences seeking out employment after resettlement due to patriarchal structures and attitudes toward women that are present in the Arab Middle East. The goals of this paper were a) to examine employment rates among Syrian refugees, b) to examine predictors of employment among male and female refugees, and c) to examine refugee status as a moderator of the relationship between attitudes toward women and employment status.
Nationally representative data from the Arab Barometer on 600 refugees and 1400 native-born individuals living in Lebanon and Jordan from 2016–2017 were used.
Native-born individuals living in Lebanon and Jordan were 2.16 times more likely to be employed than refugees. Men living in Lebanon and Jordan were 7.83 times more likely to be employed than women. Finally, refugee status moderated the relationship between attitudes toward women's rights and roles and employment. Among native-born women, a positive attitude toward women's rights and roles predicted employment status, whereas this positive relationship was not found for women refugees. Among refugee men, a positive attitude toward women's rights and roles was linked to a lower likelihood of holding a job.
These findings suggest that agencies supporting refugees should communicate realistic expectations about employment during resettlement and should address the challenges that women refugees face when seeking employment.
This study is the first study to identify attitudes toward women's rights and roles as a predictor of employment among refugee populations and highlights the unique struggles that refugee women face.
The author would like to thank Natalie Wright and Wei Zhuang for their help on the manuscript.
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