Economic vulnerabilities, such as low wages, economic exclusion, and inability to meet basic needs without financial assistance, are among many challenges refugees face in host countries. Perceived discrimination among refugees may contribute to economic vulnerability within refugee communities. Citizens of host countries experience vulnerability themselves and may fear, based on misinformation, that refugees bring disease or drain resources, which may lead them to stigmatize and discriminate against refugees interpersonally and politically. This abstract aims to (1) identify the prevalence of self-reported “poverty” (i.e., self-assessed material distress), and thus economic vulnerability, as a post-migration living difficulty (PMLD), and (2) assess the relationship between poverty and perceived discrimination as self-identified PMLDs among Syrian refugee women in non-camp settings in Jordan.
Data are drawn from Project ASPIRE, a cross-sectional study of 507 Syrian refugee women recruited from four non-governmental health care agencies throughout Jordan. Women were eligible to participate if they were Syrian refugees, were living in non-camp settings, and were above age 18. Research staff conducted surveys in 2018 and assessed sociodemographic characteristics, experiences of perceived discrimination, and economic hardship since arriving in Jordan. For the analysis, we defined economic vulnerability as identification of poverty as a PMLD. We examined associations between perceived discrimination and poverty using logistic regression analysis (n=480), adjusting for age, years of education, total debt, displacement history, and income sources.
Women’s mean age was 34 (SD: 10.96) years, and mean number of years women had lived in Jordan was 5.18 (SD: 1.38). Of the total sample, 92.5% identified poverty as a PMLD, with 79.1% identifying poverty as a major problem in their lives after migrating. Of the total sample, 89.5% were unable to find work at some point after arriving in Jordan. More than 91% said they or their family currently had debt, averaging over 1,000 JOD ($1,400US). Over 83% of women relied on World Food Programme food coupons as a main financial resource. Over 32% of the women perceived discrimination from the local non-Syrian community as a moderate to major PMLD. In the logistic regression, after adjusting for age, years of education, food security, and economic exclusion (i.e., not being able to find work), we found that determinants of poverty included: age [aOR: 1.11; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.22]; food insecurity [aOR: 1.66; 95% CI: 1.32, 2.09]; economic exclusion (i.e., not being able to find work) [aOR: 3.99; 95% CI: 2.03, 7.83]; and perceived discrimination [aOR: 2.86; 95% CI: 1.21, 6.75].
Findings show that Syrian refugee women experiencing perceived discrimination are almost three times more likely to experience poverty post-migration. The results underscore the need to address perceived discrimination in order to facilitate economic stability and remove barriers to successful reintegration. Current research indicates that multi-modal, group-based interventions that address psychosocial and contextual factors hold promise in addressing mental health concerns and stigma; thus, future research may endeavor to establish randomized control trials of potential interventions that would help this population meet basic needs, reinforce social support networks, and reduce stigma surrounding refugees.