This paper examines the labor market trajectories of refugees who arrived in Belgium between 1999 and 2009. Belgium offers a relatively easy formal labor market access to refugees and other types of migrants but they face many other barriers in this strongly regulated and institutionalized labor market. Based on a longitudinal dataset that links respondents’ information from the Belgian Labor Force Survey with comprehensive social security data on their work histories, we estimate discrete-time hazard models to analyze refugees’ entry into and exit out of the first employment spell, contrasting their outcomes with family and labor migrants of the same arrival cohort. The analysis shows that refugees take significantly longer to enter their first employment spell as compared with other migrant groups. They also run a greater risk of exiting out of their first employment spell (back) into social assistance and into unemployment. The low employment rates of refugees are thus not only due to a slow integration process upon arrival, but also reflect a disproportional risk of exiting the labor market after a period in work. Our findings indicate that helping refugees into a first job is not sufficient to ensure labor market participation in the long run, because these jobs may be short-lived. Instead, our results provide clear arguments in favor of policies that support sustainable labor market integration.
Low labour market participation, together with the high effective tax wedge at low wage levels, create a fertile ground for the introduction of the in-work benefits (IWB) in Serbia. Our paper provides an ex-ante evaluation of the two IWB schemes, directed at stimulating the labour supply and more equal income distribution. The methodological approach combines the tax-and-benefit microsimulation model with the discrete labour supply model. Our results show that both individual and family-based IWB schemes would considerably boost labour market participation, although family-based benefits would have disincentivizing effects for the secondary earners in couples. Most of the behavioural changes take place among the poorest individuals, with significant redistributive effects.