Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Expanding Labor Market Access for Refugees and Forced Migrants
A joint initiative that looks at the impacts of expanding labor market access for refugees and forged migrants in low- and middle-income countries
About the Project
Most of the world’s 29 million refugees and forced migrants lack the ability to freely work, move, and thrive. The #LetThemWork initiative, a partnership with Refugees International, combines research and advocacy to understand these barriers and overcome them

The vast majority of the world’s 29 million refugees and forced migrants live in low- and middle-income countries.

Refugees International and CGD logos

In general, these countries severely restrict the rights of these people to work, move, and thrive. People are stuck, often for five or ten years, without the ability to make a living for themselves and their families.

These restrictions create a wide range of costs and forgone benefits, including lower economic productivity for the host country, forgone tax revenues, and lower incomes and living standards for the refugees and forced migrants themselves.

CGD and Refugees International are collaborating on the #LetThemWork initiative. Funded by the IKEA Foundation and Western Union Foundation, and supported by a high-level Advisory Group, it aims to generate evidence on the impacts of expanding economic inclusion and develop policy recommendations for global and national actors.

Learn about Our Impact

Testimony before Canada's Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (December 2020)

Blogs

  • With US Withdrawal, Rights of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan Hang in the Balance
    by Denielle Amparado et al.
    With the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, it is likely that the Pakistani government will see new refugee movements. The global community must support Pakistan in their...
  • Venezuelan Economic Integration Would Yield Huge Benefits; Donors Should Fund It
    by Martha Guerrero Ble et al.
    More than 5.5 million Venezuelans have fled socio-economic and institutional collapse, high levels of insecurity, human rights violations, and political persecution at home. It...
  • Why Colombia Granted Full Rights to its 1.7 Million Venezuelans, and What...
    by Stephanie López Villamil et al.
    The Government of Colombia has been incredibly generous towards this population, enacting several rounds of work permits which granted the right to work, move, and formalize...
  • Few Rights and Little Progress: The Rohingya in Bangladesh
    by Helen Dempster et al.
    Last month, the Bangladeshi government began moving Rohingya refugees from camps in Cox’s Bazar to Bhasan Char, a remote and flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, against...
  • Venezuelans Can Bolster Economic Recovery and Stability in Peru amid COVID-19
    by Martha Guerrero Ble
    New research by Refugees International and the Center for Global Development (CGD) finds that Venezuelans in Peru face major barriers that prevent them from integrating into the...
  • Five Years Later, One Million Refugees Are Thriving in Germany
    by Sekou Keita et al.
    In 2015, large numbers of refugees fleeing war and terrorism in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq arrived on Europe’s shores. Fear and uncertainty reigned—who would give these...
  • Supporting Refugees Will Help the Private Sector Recover from COVID-19
    by Diana Alberghini et al.
    The COVID-19 recession has exacerbated the need for economic inclusion to prevent the most vulnerable from falling into poverty and delaying economic recovery. For the private...
  • Improving Venezuelans’ Economic Inclusion in Colombia Could Contribute $1...
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    Over the past few years, the political and economic crisis in Venezuela has forced nearly 1.8 million Venezuelans to flee to Colombia. The Colombian government has responded...
  • Refugees’ Right to Work: Progress and Remaining Challenges
    by Helen Dempster et al.
  • Including Immigrants is Good Policy Not Just During the Pandemic, but...
    by Thomas Ginn et al.
    Inclusive policy changes spurred by COVID-19 have so far been limited and temporary, but as governments chart a path to recovery, immigrants and citizens alike would...
  • Beneficial Policies Towards the Venezuela Crisis Depend on Development Finance
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    The political and economic crisis in Venezuela has caused the biggest population movement in recent Latin American history. Support from the international community has...
  • CGD and RI Launch New Initiative to Expand Formal Labor Market Access for...
    by Cindy Huang et al.
    On World Refugee Day this year, we are excited to note recent successes—in particular, the expansion of formal labor market access (FLMA) for refugees.

Publications

  • From Displacement to Development: How Ethiopia Can Create Shared Growth by...
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative by Refugees International (RI) and the Center for Global Development (CGD). It outlines the barriers refugees face...
  • The Effect of COVID-19 on the Economic Inclusion of Venezuelans in Peru
    by Martha Guerrero Ble et al.
    This policy paper, part of the “Let Them Work” initiative, outlines how the Government of Peru, donors, international organizations, and NGOs can address and overcome these...
  • From Displacement to Development: How Peru Can Transform Venezuelan...
    by Martha Guerrero Ble et al.
    This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative by Refugees International (RI) and the Center for Global Development (CGD). It outlines the barriers Venezuelans...
  • The Effect of COVID-19 on the Economic Inclusion of Venezuelans in Colombia
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    This policy paper, part of the “Let Them Work” initiative, outlines the impact of COVID-19 on Colombians and Venezuelans alike, exploring the barriers both face to accessing...
  • From Displacement to Development: How Colombia Can Transform Venezuelan...
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative by Refugees International (RI) and the Center for Global Development (CGD). It outlines the barriers Venezuelans...
  • Locked Down and Left Behind: The Impact of COVID-19 on Refugees’ Economic...
    by Helen Dempster et al.
    Refugees living in low- and middle-income countries are especially vulnerable to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on data from eight hosting countries before...

Events

  • Desde el desplazamiento al desarrollo: Retos y oportunidades para refugiados y migrantes en Perú
    La crisis humanitaria que vive Venezuela es considerada una de las principales crisis del desplazamiento forzado en la región....
  • Displacement to Development: Economic Inclusion of Venezuelans in Colombia
    In the past years, the economic, political, and social collapse of Venezuela has pushed over 5 million Venezuelans to seek...
  • Refugees and forced migrants can be immense economic contributors to the host communities where they settle. However, to...

Blogs

  • With US Withdrawal, Rights of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan Hang in the Balance
    by Denielle Amparado et al.
    With the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, it is likely that the Pakistani government will see new refugee movements. The global community must support Pakistan in their...
  • Venezuelan Economic Integration Would Yield Huge Benefits; Donors Should Fund It
    by Martha Guerrero Ble et al.
    More than 5.5 million Venezuelans have fled socio-economic and institutional collapse, high levels of insecurity, human rights violations, and political persecution at home. It...
  • Why Colombia Granted Full Rights to its 1.7 Million Venezuelans, and What...
    by Stephanie López Villamil et al.
    The Government of Colombia has been incredibly generous towards this population, enacting several rounds of work permits which granted the right to work, move, and formalize...
  • Few Rights and Little Progress: The Rohingya in Bangladesh
    by Helen Dempster et al.
    Last month, the Bangladeshi government began moving Rohingya refugees from camps in Cox’s Bazar to Bhasan Char, a remote and flood-prone island in the Bay of Bengal, against...
  • Venezuelans Can Bolster Economic Recovery and Stability in Peru amid COVID-19
    by Martha Guerrero Ble
    New research by Refugees International and the Center for Global Development (CGD) finds that Venezuelans in Peru face major barriers that prevent them from integrating into the...
  • Five Years Later, One Million Refugees Are Thriving in Germany
    by Sekou Keita et al.
    In 2015, large numbers of refugees fleeing war and terrorism in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq arrived on Europe’s shores. Fear and uncertainty reigned—who would give these...
  • Supporting Refugees Will Help the Private Sector Recover from COVID-19
    by Diana Alberghini et al.
    The COVID-19 recession has exacerbated the need for economic inclusion to prevent the most vulnerable from falling into poverty and delaying economic recovery. For the private...
  • Improving Venezuelans’ Economic Inclusion in Colombia Could Contribute $1...
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    Over the past few years, the political and economic crisis in Venezuela has forced nearly 1.8 million Venezuelans to flee to Colombia. The Colombian government has responded...
  • Refugees’ Right to Work: Progress and Remaining Challenges
    by Helen Dempster et al.
  • Including Immigrants is Good Policy Not Just During the Pandemic, but...
    by Thomas Ginn et al.
    Inclusive policy changes spurred by COVID-19 have so far been limited and temporary, but as governments chart a path to recovery, immigrants and citizens alike would...
  • Beneficial Policies Towards the Venezuela Crisis Depend on Development Finance
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    The political and economic crisis in Venezuela has caused the biggest population movement in recent Latin American history. Support from the international community has...
  • CGD and RI Launch New Initiative to Expand Formal Labor Market Access for...
    by Cindy Huang et al.
    On World Refugee Day this year, we are excited to note recent successes—in particular, the expansion of formal labor market access (FLMA) for refugees.

Publications

  • From Displacement to Development: How Ethiopia Can Create Shared Growth by...
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative by Refugees International (RI) and the Center for Global Development (CGD). It outlines the barriers refugees face...
  • The Effect of COVID-19 on the Economic Inclusion of Venezuelans in Peru
    by Martha Guerrero Ble et al.
    This policy paper, part of the “Let Them Work” initiative, outlines how the Government of Peru, donors, international organizations, and NGOs can address and overcome these...
  • From Displacement to Development: How Peru Can Transform Venezuelan...
    by Martha Guerrero Ble et al.
    This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative by Refugees International (RI) and the Center for Global Development (CGD). It outlines the barriers Venezuelans...
  • The Effect of COVID-19 on the Economic Inclusion of Venezuelans in Colombia
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    This policy paper, part of the “Let Them Work” initiative, outlines the impact of COVID-19 on Colombians and Venezuelans alike, exploring the barriers both face to accessing...
  • From Displacement to Development: How Colombia Can Transform Venezuelan...
    by Jimmy Graham et al.
    This case study is part of the “Let Them Work” initiative by Refugees International (RI) and the Center for Global Development (CGD). It outlines the barriers Venezuelans...
  • Locked Down and Left Behind: The Impact of COVID-19 on Refugees’ Economic...
    by Helen Dempster et al.
    Refugees living in low- and middle-income countries are especially vulnerable to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on data from eight hosting countries before...

Events

Desde el desplazamiento al desarrollo: Retos y oportunidades para refugiados y migrantes en Perú
La crisis humanitaria que vive Venezuela es considerada una de las principales crisis del desplazamiento forzado en la región. Con más de 5 millones de venezolanos y...
Displacement to Development: Economic Inclusion of Venezuelans in Colombia
In the past years, the economic, political, and social collapse of Venezuela has pushed over 5 million Venezuelans to seek protection abroad. With around 1.8 million...
Refugees and forced migrants can be immense economic contributors to the host communities where they settle. However, to maximize their contributions and achieve improved...

Contact

For more information, contact hdempster@cgdev.org

Contact

For more information, contact hdempster@cgdev.org

Experts

Cassandra Zimmer
Cassandra Zimmer is a program coordinator for the Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy program at CGD. She graduated from American University with a BA in...
Helen Dempster
Helen Dempster is the assistant director and senior associate for policy outreach for the Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy Program at the Center for Global...
Reva Resstack
Reva Resstack is a research assistant working with Michael Clemens and Thomas Ginn, supporting their work on migration and displacement. Before joining CGD, Resstack...
Thomas Ginn
Thomas Ginn is a research fellow at the Center for Global Development, where he studies migration and displacement. His current research focuses on aid for refugees in...

Experts

  • Cassandra Zimmer
    Cassandra Zimmer is a program coordinator for the Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy program at CGD. She graduated from American University with a BA in...
  • Helen Dempster
    Helen Dempster is the assistant director and senior associate for policy outreach for the Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy Program at the Center for Global...
  • Reva Resstack
    Reva Resstack is a research assistant working with Michael Clemens and Thomas Ginn, supporting their work on migration and displacement. Before joining CGD, Resstack...
  • Thomas Ginn
    Thomas Ginn is a research fellow at the Center for Global Development, where he studies migration and displacement. His current research focuses on aid for refugees in...

Acknowledgments

CGD and RI would like to acknowledge the generous support and engagement of the IKEA Foundation and the Western Union Foundation.