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School integration of refugee children: evidence from the largest refugee group in any country

Tuesday 4 April 2023
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

The Social Citizenship and Migration Program invites you to two seminars by professor Meltem Dayiloglu (4th and 6th of April). Meltem Dayioglu is a Professor, at the Department of Economics at Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. In April, Meltem will be a visiting professor at the Department of Economics at Leiden University. Her research focuses on labor economics, economics of education, income distribution and poverty, child labor and gender issues. Especially, issues related to migration and schooling have caught her recent attention.  She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Middle East Technical University, Turkey.


Although school integration of the children of economic migrants in developed countries is well-studied in the literature, little evidence based on large-scale representative data exists on the school integration of refugee children—many of whom live in low- or middle-income countries. This study focuses on Syrian refugee children in Turkey and examines the underlying causes of native– refugee differences in school enrollment. For this purpose, we use the 2018 Turkish Demographic and Health Survey, which includes a representative sample of Syrian refugee households. Accounting for a rich set of socioeconomic variables, we find that the native–refugee gap in school enrollment drops by half for boys and two-thirds for girls, but the gap persists for both genders. When we restrict the sample to refugees who arrived in Turkey at or before age 8 and account for socioeconomic differences, the native–refugee gap completely vanishes for both boys and girls, indicating that school integration of refugee children in Turkey has been possible conditional on their age at arrival. We also find that the timing of boys’ school dropouts coincides with their entry into the labor market, whereas girls’ dropouts mostly occur before marriage age. Finally, we reveal important differences between natives and refugees, as well as early and late arrivers among refugees, in never starting school, grade progression and repetition, dropping out, and grade for age.

Social Citizenship and Migration

The Social Citizenship and Migration program is one of the multidisciplinary stimulation programs at Leiden University. In the SC&M program, Leiden experts in public administration, law, economics, humanities and social and behavioural sciences look together at the issue of migration. They combine their knowledge of migration in the past, social patterns and perceptions of migrants, and share their findings with other researchers, policymakers and society at large. Find more information here

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