Metro Atlanta Policy Lab for Education
Refugee Students and Peer Effects
What are the effects of having refugee students as peers?
Much of the recent debate on refugee resettlement focuses on its perceived adverse effects on local communities. However, there is sparse credible evidence to either support or refute this perception. This research contributes to an emerging literature on the externalities of refugee integration, providing evidence on how this population affects the behavior and performance of incumbent students. The author leverages variation in the share of refugees within schools and across grades to estimate the causal effect of having refugee peers on the English Language Arts (ELA) and Math test scores of non-refugee students. The author also estimates refugee peer effects on non-academic outcomes such as student absenteeism and disciplinary incidents. On average, estimates suggest that increasing the share of grade-level refugees by 1 percentage point is associated with a 0.01 standard deviation increase in Math test scores. While the author finds no effect on average ELA test scores, using nonlinear-in-means specifications The auhtor finds evidence of negative spillovers in ELA performance among low-achieving students and positive spillovers among high-achieving students.