Research Reports

IDEAS: The Economic Impact of Granting Refugees in Malaysia the Right to Work

By Laurence Todd, Adli Amirullah, and Wan Ya Shin | April 2019
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Refugees are legally barred from working or owning businesses in Malaysia, which means that the over 160,000 refugees currently residing there are unable to earn a living or contribute to their host country’s economy. The Economic Impact of Granting Refugees in Malaysia the Right to Work outlines the potential economic benefits of granting refugees in Malaysia the legal right to work.

In its election manifesto, Pakatan Harapan committed to providing the legal right to work to all registered refugees in Malaysia. Since the election, UNHCR has been working closely with the Government of Malaysia in anticipation that the Government will adopt the policies and practical steps to implement their election manifesto promises. This report identifies the ways in which granting refugees the right to work would impact both the economy and the public finances in Malaysia and quantifies these effects to the extent possible. Read the full paper to learn more about the potential benefits associated with giving refugees the right to work in Malaysia, along with key policy recommendations that amplify benefits while mitigating potential costs.

This research was a collaboration between the Tent Partnership for Refugees and IDEAS, a cross-partisan think tank working across the political spectrum to improve the level of understanding and acceptance of public policies based on the principles of rule of law, limited government, free markets and free individuals.