MPP Cookle receives Freeman-Stassen Award for Excellence in Global Affairs

Ms. Cookle was nominated by Professor Ragui Assaad for her MPA professional paper: “Local Labor Market integration of Syrian Refugees in Jordan.” This paper is a real tour de force. It provides a rigorous evidence-based analysis of the effects of the large inflows of Syrian of refugees to Jordan since 2011 on various groups in the Jordanian labor market. This is an area where there is scant evidence-based knowledge and where speculation and guesswork run rampant.

Before coming to the Humphrey School, Mikki travelled to Jordan in 2010 to learn Arabic and learn about the Palestinian refugee crisis. She returned in 2014 to observe the palpable tensions resulting from the large influx of Syrians coming to Jordan as a result of the Syrian Civil War. Jordan is a country that is accustomed to dealing with the human consequences of war, having received large influxes of refugees after the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars, the First Gulf War of 1991, the Iraq War of 2003 and now the Syrian Civil War. However, the magnitude of the inflow this time around is unprecedented for a small country such as Jordan; over a million and half refugees in a country with fewer than 6.5 million citizens.

To undertake this original analysis, Mikki used data from the official Jordanian Employment and
Unemployment Survey (EUS). Since this data was originally designed to look at the labor market outcomes of Jordanian citizens, it was not immediately suitable to study the experiences or effects of Syrian refugees. Mikki used data from the 2004 and 2015 population censuses for Jordan to create weights by nationality group and governorate that could be applied to the annual EUS data to make them more representative of all nationalities present in Jordan. This contribution alone is publishable and worthy of an award as it will allow future users of this data to examine how labor market outcomes differ by nationality group.

Once she was able to prepare her data appropriately, Mikki was able to analyze the effects of the Syrian influx on various labor market outcomes for Jordanians, Egyptians and Syrians in the Jordanian labor market by comparing outcomes in three groups of governorates (or provinces), those that are highly affected by refugee flows, those in an intermediate positon and those that had smaller refugee flows. She finds that the major labor market aggregates, such as employment, unemployment and labor force participation, were not strongly affected for Jordanian nationals by the Syrian refugee flows, but those of Egyptian migrant workers were. However, there were growing underemployment trends, revealed by fewer hours worked, among a specific group of Jordanian workers, namely those in mostly informal occupations.  

Executive Summary:

Mikki O'Leary Cookle is a Master of Public Policy graduating in 2017 from the University of Minnesota, HHH School of Public Affairs, with a focus on Economic and Community Development.

The Freeman-Stassen Award is given to the Humphrey student who has demonstrated the greatest achievement in the field of global affairs. The award jointly is presented by the Freeman and Stassen chairs.
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