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Journal Article

How Does Poverty Differ among Refugees? Taking a Gender Lens to the Data on Syrian Refugees in Jordan


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Taylor and Francis
Middle East and North Africa | Jordan | Syrian Arab Republic
2021-06-11T19:35:40Z | 2021-06-11T19:35:40Z | 2020-05-12

Many reports document the hardships experienced by refugees, highlighting that women and children are a highly vulnerable group. However, empirical analysis of how gender inequality impacts poverty among refugees is limited. We combine registration data for Syrian refugees in Jordan collected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with data from its Home Visit surveys to analyze income poverty rates among refugee households. We use an approach that captures the disruption to household structures that results from displacement to evaluate the poverty impacts, comparing refugee households with male and female principal applicants (PAs). We find that distinguishing between different types of principal applicant households is important. Half of the female PAs for nonnuclear households live below the poverty line compared to only one-fifth of male PAs for nonnuclear household. PAs who are widows and widowers also face high poverty risks. Households that have formed because of the unpredictable dynamics of forced displacement, such as unaccompanied children and single caregivers, emerge as extremely vulnerable groups. We show that differences in household composition and individual attributes of male and female PAs are not the only factors driving increased poverty risk. Gender-specific barriers which prevent women accessing labor markets are also a factor. Our findings show that gender inequality amplifies the poverty experienced by a significant number of refugees. Our approach can be used to help policy-makers design more effective programs of assistance and find durable solutions for displaced populations.


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