Economic self-sufficiency

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Economic self-sufficiency a study of Southeast Asian refugees in Colorado
Hur, Mann Hyung
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xiv, 215 leaves : illustrations ; 29 cm


Subjects / Keywords:
Political refugees -- Economic conditions -- United States ( lcsh )
Political refugees -- Economic conditions -- Southeast Asia ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references.
General Note:
School of Public Affairs
Statement of Responsibility:
Mann Hyung Hur.

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|University of Colorado Denver
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Resource Identifier:
33821966 ( OCLC )
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Full Text
Mann Hyung Hur
B.A., Kon-Kuk University, 1980
M.P.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1985
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of Public Affairs of the
University of Colorado in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Graduate School of Public Affairs

This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
degree by
Mann Hyung Hur
has been approved for the
Graduate School
of Public Affairs
Peter deLeon

John G. Golden

Hur, Mann Hyung (Ph.D., Public Administration)
Economic Self-Sufficiency: A Study of Southeast Asian
Refugees in Colorado
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Peter deLeon
This study examined various economic self-
sufficiency achievement patterns among Vietnamese,
Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong refugee groups in
Colorado. The analysis gave special focus to the
evaluation of: previous job skills, the utilization
and effectiveness of the Colorado Refugee and
Immigrant Service Programs, and bio-factors such as
age, gender, marital status, and family type.
Quantitative techniques utilized included
descriptive statistics to examine characteristics of
the study group population, logit analysis to assess
the most significant variables associated with the
achievement of self-sufficiency, and analysis of
variance and chi square to conduct significant tests
for those analysis.
The following were found:
(1) For all four groups, English proficiency
upon arrival and single person families rather than

nuclear and extended families were the most commonly
significant predictors related to self-sufficiency.
(2) Differences in the achievement pattern of
self-sufficiency for the four groups existed: in
addition to the two most commonly significant
variables above, the Vietnamese were influenced by
education and length of time in ESL training; the
Cambodian were affected by the age variable instead of
the household type variable; and the Laotian and Hmong
groups were not affected by variables other than the
two variables above.
(3) The four groups had significantly
different self-sufficiency achievement rates: the
Laotian had the highest ratio with 65 percent self-
sufficiency, while the Hmong demonstrated the lowest
rate with 29 percent; and 61 percent of the Cambodian
and 43 percent of the Vietnamese achieved this goal
during the same period.
(4) Unlike previous studies, this study found
refugee resettlement programs were effective. This
effect was particularly striking for the Laotian
group, which despite its relatively less favorable
initial situation in terms of the two variables above,
reached the highest achievement rate among the four
groups by utilizing the program the most extensively.

In conclusion, the study points to the need
for greater cooperation and understanding between the
refugees and the government in the execution of
refugee resettlement programs. Refugees should unlock
their capacities by utilizing as many of the CRISP
programs as they can. Practitioners should try to
identify problematic areas and fix them.
The form and content of this abstracjc^are approved. I
recommend its publ
Signed _
Faculty member in charge of thesis

I am greatly indebted to my chairperson,
professor Peter deLeon and the other committee members
including professor Linda deLeon, professor E. Samuel
Overman, professor Mark Pogrebin, and Doctor John
Golden of Aurora Public Schools. Special thanks are
extended to Doctor Peter Van Arsdale of the Colorado
Division of Mental Health, who helped me just as my
committee members did.
I would like to thank Laurie Bagan, the state
coordinator of the Colorado Refugee and Immigrant
Services Program (CRISP), who arranged to contribute
time and efforts to the collection of my data. Thanks
are owed to Saengkham Nguyen, Wanda Gonzalez and
Karalyn Dorm of CRISP, who collected data. Many
thanks are extended to Patrick Chavez and Debie Goin
Above all, I would like to express my
appreciation to all faculty members of the Graduate
School of Public Affairs of the University of Colorado
at Denver, and Morris E. Ruddick of the Ruddick
International, Inc

INTRODUCTION ....................................... 1
Overview: Refugee Concerns ..................... 1
Importance of the Study .......................... 5
Statement of the Question ........................ 7
Operational Definitions .......................... 9
Limitations of the Study ........................ 13
THE U.S. SOCIAL WELFARE SYSTEM ................... 15
Introduction .................................... 15
Philosophical Views of Public Welfare ........... IS
History of the U.S. Social Welfare Systems 26
Welfare Reform Approaches ....................... 31
Welfare Reform under the Regean
Administration ................................ 36
Summary ......................................... 38
REFUBEE WELFARE PROGRAMS .......................... 41
Introduction .................................. 41
History of Refugee Welfare Programs

Philosophical Approaches and Welfare
Dependency ................................. 52
Southeast Asian Refugees ..................... 59
Factors Determining Refugee Economic
Self-Sufficiency ............................. 66
Effectiveness of Refugee Economic
Economic Self-Sufficiency Programs ........... 69
Conclusion ..................................... 72
RESEARCH DESIGN .................................. 74
General Method ................................. 74
Specific Procedures ............................ 79
Research Population ............................ 93
Data Collection ................................ 97
AN ANALYSIS OF THE DATA ........................ 98
The Achievement of Southeast Asian
Refugee Economic Self-Sufficiency ............ 98
Background of Study Population ................ 100
Characteristics of the Target
Population .................................. 105
The Most Significant Predictors of the
Achievement of Economic Self-
Sufficiency ................................. 113
The Most Significant Predictors of the
Improvement Df English Skills ............. 131
Variable Analysis ............................. 145
Extensive Utilization of the CRISP
Employment Service Program .................. 157

Introduction ............................... 165
Achievement Rates of Economic Self-
Sufficiency ................................. 168
Patterns of Economic Self-Sufficiency ......... 173
Utilization of CRISP Services ................. 178
Indications for the Effective Achievement
of Economic SE1 f-Sufficiency .............. 179
The Commonalties and Differences between
Earlier Studies and this Study ............. 183
Policy Implications ........................... 185
Conclusion .................................... 194
Recommendations ............................... 195
BIBLIOGRAPHY ...................................... 204

1.1 The Poverty Thresholds: 1984-1987 ..... 11
2.1 Public and Private Expenditures for Social
Welfare and GNP ........................ 16
2.2 Public Welfare: Philosophical Views,
Reforms, and Legislation ............... 39
3.1 Differences in Philosophy and Behavior
among Four Major Southeast Asian
Refugee Croups ........................... 64
4.1 Variables Used for Characteristics of the
Target Population ........................ 81
4.2 Means Table of English Proficiency:
CRISP'S Evaluation and Self-Evaluation 82
4.3 A List of Independent Variable Relating
to the Achievement of Economic Self-
Sufficiency .............................. 85
4.4 Independent Variables Relating to
the Improvement of English Skills .... 90
4.5 Population of Refugees Resettled in
Colorado during 1984 94
4.6 Number of NCRA Recipients
by Ethnic Groups ......................... 96
5.1 Economic Self-Sufficiency Rates within
18 Months, by Ethnicity .................. 99
5.2 Significant Test: Achievement Rates of

5.3 Southeast Asian Refugees and CRISP
Services Recipients by Ethnicity ...... 103
5.4 Types of Cash Assistance
by Ethnic Groups ....................... 104
5.5 Characteristics of Population ........... 110
5.6 Types of Family by Ethnicity ............. Ill
5.7 Types of Job Prior to the U.S............. 112
5.8 The Most Significant Contributors to
the Achievement of Economic Self-
Sufficiency, the Vietnamese ............ 118
5.9 The Most Significant Contributors to
the Achievement of Economic Self-
Sufficiency, the Cambodian ............. 122
5.10 The Most Significant Contributors to
the Achievement of Economic Self-
Sufficiency, the Laotian ............... 125
5.11 The Most Significant Contributors to the
Achievement of Economic Self-
Sufficiency, the Hmong ................. 128
5.12 The Relationship between the Achievement
of Economic Self-Sufficiency and the
Independent Variables, by Ethnicity
(Summary) .............................. 130
5.13 Improvement of English Skills by
Ethnic Groups .......................... 133
5.14 Significant Test of the Improvement of
English Skills: The Laotian Group and
Other Three Groups ..................... 134
5.15 The Significant Contributors to the
Improvement of English Skills: the
Vietnamese ............................. 135
5.16 The Significant Contributors to the
Improvement of English Skills:
the Cambodian .......................... 137

5.17 The Significant Contributors to the
Improvement of English Skills:
the Laotian Group ..................... 140
5.18 The Significant Contributors to the
Improvement of English Skills:
the Hmong Group ....................... 142
5.19 The Relationship between the Improvement
of English Skill Skills and Independent
Variables, by Ethnic Groups
(Summary) .............................. 144
5.20 English Skills upon Arrival and Percent
of the Economically Self-Sufficient .. 147
5.21 Length of ESL Training and Percent of
the Economically Self-Sufficient ...... 148
5.22 Participants in ESL Training by
Ethnicity .............................. 149
5.23 Years of Education and Percent of the
Economically Self-Sufficient ............ 150
5.24 Age Groups and Percent of the
Economically Self-Sufficient ............ 152
5.25 Gender and Percent of the Economically
Self-Sufficient ......................... 153
5.26 Marital Status and Percent of the
Economically Self-Sufficient ............ 154
5.27 Type of Family and Percent of the
Economically Self-Sufficient ............ 156
5.28 Sources of Jobs by Ethnicity .............. 159
5.29 Sources of Jobs and Monthly Income, by
Ethnic Groups ........................... 160
5.30 Type of Current Jobs by Three-Digit
Occupation Codes ........................ 163
5.31 Registration Rates for CRISP Services .. 164

2.1 Public and Private Expenditures for
Social Welfare and GNP .............. 17
5.1 The Relationship between the Achievement
of Economic Self-Sufficiency and
Independent Variables, the Vietnamese 119
5.2 The Relationship between the Achievement
of Economic Self-Sufficiency and
Independent Variables, the Cambodian 122
5.3 The Relationship between the Achievement
of Economic Self-Sufficiency and
Independent Variables, the Laotian ... 126
5.4 The Relationship between the Achievement
of Economic Self-Sufficiency and
Independent Variables, the Hmong ....... 129
5.5 The Relationship between the Improvement
of English Skills and Independent
Variables, the Vietnamese .............. 136
5.6 The Relationship between the Improvement
of English Skills and Independent
Variables, the Cambodian ............... 138
5.7 The Relationship between the Improvement
of English Skills and Independent
Variables, the Laotian ................. 141
5.8 The Relationship between the Improvement
of English Skills and Independent
Variables, the Hmong ................ 143
6.1 English proficiency and Family Types:
A Similar Potential Zone in Self-
Sufficiency ...............................

x i v
6.2 Achievement of Economic Self-Sufficiency
and Improvement of English Skills,
the Vietnamese ......................... 175
6.3 Achievement of Economic Self-Sufficiency
and Improvement of English Skills,
the Cambodian ........................... 175
6.4 Achievement of Economic Self-Sufficiency
and Improvement of English Skills,
the Laotian ............................. 176
6.5 Achievement of Economic Self-Sufficiency
and Improvement of English Skills,
the Hmong ............................... 177
6.6 A Plan for the Effective Achievement of
Economic Se1f-Sufficiency ............... 1S2

Overview: Refugee Concerns
In 1951, the world refugee population was
only 1.5 million. Today, the population is close to
12 million. The steady rise in this population is the
result of protracted civil wars and foreign
occupations. The Afghanistan war resulted in more
than 4 million refugees (Horst, 1987). The Indochina
War also produced a tremendous number of refugees,
many who have subsequently come to the United States.
Southeast Asian refugees remain the largest
population among recent refugees who arrived in the
United States. Nearly 850,000 Southeast Asian
refugees have arrived in the United States since the
end of the Indochina War. Each year, since 1983, over
40,000 Southeast Asian refugees entered the U.S.
(Refugee Reports. December 18, 1987). According to
the Colorado Refugee and Immigrant Services Program
(CRISP), Colorado, where this study was conducted, had
a Southeast Asian refugee population close tQ 12,000.

Although refugees were once considered a
temporary phenomenon, their increasing numbers have
required governments, private agencies, and
international organizations to cooperate in finding
solutions to what is now seen as an ongoing problem
(Strand and Jones, 1985, p. 1). The major concerns
that have arisen from the steady stream of refugees
arriving in this country are providing material
assistance, such as food, shelter, and medical care,
to new refugees, as well as facilitating their
resettlement. In this regard, the United States
Congress enacted the Refugee Act in 1980 to help
refugees become self-sufficient as quickly as
possible. This act created the Office of Refugee
Resettlement (ORR) to provide effective refugee
services, such as cash assistance, medical assistance,
employment services, etc.
Federal refugee resettlement assistance is
provided by ORR primarily through state-administered
refugee resettlement programs. In Colorado, the state
has established the CRISP, which is under the auspices
of the Colorado Department of Social Services.
Broadly speaking, CRISP provides cash
assistance, medical assistance, and self-support
services to refugees residing in Colorado. Cash

assistance, which is referred to as non-categorical
refugee assistance (NCRA), is available to refugees
who have been in the U.S. less than 12 months and meet
financial eligibility requirements. Such refugees may
not receive NCRA benefits if they are receiving
disability benefits, aid to dependent children, or
social security benefits. (This 12-month time
limitation was reduced from 18 months in October
1988.) Medical care is obtained from private
providers under Medicaid coverage. English as a
second language (ESL) training is provided for this
group through contracting with the Colorado Department
of Education. Employment services are provided by
bilingual professional staff members that are directly
employed by the Department of Social Services.
The 1980 Act attempts to insure that NCRA is
made available to refugees in a manner that will not
discourage their eventual attainment of economic self-
sufficiency. However, NCRA benefits often terminate
before such self-sufficiency is fully achieved by many
refugees. In addition, there is a concern that
refugees would develop a welfare mentality, since they
are entitled to receive cash assistance for a given
period (Strand and Jones, 1985, p. 38). Because these
are major problems for many refugee families, all of
the issues in regard to the achievement of economic

self-sufficiency, and its relation to the reception of
cash assistance, need to be examined.
To gain insight into these issues, this study
derived data on four major Southeast Asian refugee
groups in Colorado: the Vietnamese, the Cambodians,
the Laotians, and the Hmong. It may be true that
these four groups share commonalties in the pattern of
their achievement of economic self-sufficiency because
they are refugees from Southeast Asia and because they
are the displaced persons produced by the Indochina
War. However, the four groups have different cultural
and historical backgrounds, different religions and
philosophies, and different languages which may have
led to the formation of different patterns of life and
to different means of attaining self-sufficiency.
Therefore, these groups must be considered separately
to determine the common patterns and differences in
their attainment of self-support status.
This study focuses on these patterns in the
achievement of self-sufficiency for the four Southeast
Asian refugees during the first IS months after their
arrival in the U.S. This study was conducted to
define the various types of problems that are
encountered by all refugee groups in attempting to
attain this goal. More importantly, it was done to
formulate recommendations with regard to the

achievement of economic self-sufficiency that would be
beneficial, to refugees and social welfare workers in
this field.
Importance of the Study
The importance of this study can be summarized
by three major factors. First, an important
difference between this dissertation and previous
studies is that it focuses on four major southeast
Asian refugee populations, analyzing them separately
to identify similarities and differences in their
pattern of achievement of economic self-sufficiency.
Although many studies have been done on the attainment
of economic self-sufficiency by Southeast Asian
refugees, few have focused on the similarities and
differences in the pattern of achieving this goal
among the various refugee groups. Most studies focus
on either Southeast Asian refugees as a single group
(Caplan et al. 1985; DeVoe and Rynearson, 1983;
Finnan and Cooperstein, 1983; and Back, 1984), or one
individual group (Peters et al., 1983; Fass et al.,
1984; and Granville Corporation, 1982). Hackett
(1989) examined the differences and similarities
between the Chinese population who had lived in
Cambodia as well as other Chinese refugee groups (both

immigrants and refugees) in the Washington
metropolitan area. However, Hackett focused only on-
the Chinese, not on other Southeast Asian groups.
Strand and Jones (1985) studied the similarities and
differences of the four major Southeast Asian refugee
groups, but their study centered on the problem of
adaptation and assimilation, not on economic self-
sufficiency .
Second, the study also focuses on four
Southeast Asian refugee groups within a similar
environment. This narrow geographical and
chronological focus provides a good method for
controlling outside environmental variables. If each
population were from a different state (for example,
New York, California, Colorado, and Missouri) and,
therefore, had access to differing services and
opportunities, it could not be determined if the
differences and similarities among the four refugee
groups were real or spurious.
Third, this study was conducted with a control
on the time variable. In this regard, it is important
to note that under the provisions of refugees during
the period of this study, NCRA benefits terminated
within 18 months after the arrival of refugees without
regard to their attainment of self-sufficiency. This

time limit has proven to be essential to the study.
To determine if the 18 month time limitation Mas
reasonable for refugee groups, it was necessary to
target research on this specific period; however, very
few studies used control on the time variable. In
this way, it has been possible not only to focus
exclusively on the attainment of self-sufficiency by
these various refugee groups, but also to make
recommendations regarding the application of such time
limitations and the improvement in overall refugee
resettlement programs.
Statement of the Question
Southeast Asian refugees are not typical of
most other immigrants to the U.S. They have
dissimilar cultures, experiences, and expectations.
Furthermore, their immigration is neither voluntary
nor economic. It is formed by a fear of retaliation
and repression. These refugees upon arrival have to
earn a livelihood working in a strange land, in which
they even cannot understand the language.
Furthermore, they are certain to strain to achieve
economic self-sufficiency, since cash assistance
programs often terminate before economic self-
sufficiency is fully attained by NCRA recipients due
to its time limitation. This study is aimed at the

problem of economic self-sufficiency of Southeast
Asian refugees in Colorado. This study also focuses'
on making recommendations regarding more realistic
exit requirements that would ensure economic self-
sufficiency. The following questions will be answered
in this study:
1. What are the most significant variables for
Southeast Asian refugees in achieving economic self-
suf f iciency?
2. Does the higher utilization level of CRISP
services lead to the better chance in the attainment
of economic self-sufficiency?
3. Which Southeast Asian refugee groups are
more effective in achieving economic self-sufficiency?
To answer these questions, this study
will examine various patterns in the achievement of
economic self-sufficiency by four major Southeast
Asian refugee groups the Vietnamese, the Cambodian,
the Laotian, and the Hmong by analyzing
(1) previous job skills, such as English proficiency
upon arrival in the U.S., educational backgrounds,
and type of jobs prior to entry to the U.S.; (2) the
utilization and effectiveness of the CRISP programs
with a focus on ESL training and job placement

services; and (3) bio- or socio-variables, such as
age, gender, marital status, and type of family.
In answering these questions, a group of
Southeast Asian refugees in Colorado was taken as the
population of interest. A population group of 160
Southeast Asian refugees including 76 Vietnamese, 43
Cambodians, 17 Laotians and 24 Hmong was studied.
These four major Southeast Asian refugee groups were
examined separately to identify the differences and
similarities in the pattern of achieving economic
Operational Definitions
In this study, the following terms were
utilized. Their operational definitions were as the
1. Economic Self-Sufficiency: In this study,
poverty income thresholds will be employed as a
measure to determine whether or not a refugee has
achieved economic self-sufficiency. The poverty
thresholds are annually issued by the U.S. Census
Bureau and are used for statistical purposes to
determine the number of persons in poverty and present
data classifying them by type of residence, race, and
other social, economic, and demographic

characteristics. The poverty guidelines issued by the
Department, of Health and Human Services are a
simplified version of the poverty thresholds, but the
guidelines are used for administrative purposes to
determine whether a person or family is financially
eligible for assistance or services under a particular
Federal program. Therefore, the poverty thresholds
are an appropriate measure to use in determining
whether or not a particular refugee has achieved
economic self-sufficiency because the thresholds are
the bottom line that determines the minimum income
levels for survival.
The poverty thresholds are used by a number of
Federal government programs to conduct a statistical
analysis of those living in poverty. The poverty
thresholds consist of a series of income levels, with
different values for families of different sizes,
below which the families are considered poor for
statistical purposes. Figures for annual poverty
thresholds from recent years are listed below:

Table 1.1 The Poverty Thresholds: 1984-1987
Size 1984 1985 1986 1987
1 $5,278 $5,469 : $5,572 $5,778
2 6,762 6,998 : 7,138 7,397
3 8,277 8,573 : 8,737 9,056
4 10,609 10,989 11,203 11,611
5 12,566 13,007 13,259 13,737
6 14,207 14,696 14,986 15,509
7 16,096 16,656 : 17,049 17,649
8 17,961 18,512 2 18,791 19,515
9 or 21.247 22,083 : 22,497 23,105
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Census, Current
Population Report. 1984-1987.
The poverty thresholds have been computed in
terms of annual gross income. In this study, the
figures in Table 1.1 have been divided by 12 in order
to compute the monthly poverty thresholds. Therefore,
those whose incomes are over the monthly poverty
thresholds will be considered as economically self-
suf f ic ien t.
2. Welfare Dependency: In this study, welfare
refers to cash assistance. Welfare dependency refers
to "dependency on cash assistance." Therefore, those
receiving cash assistance will be categorized as
welfare dependent. Those receiving any form of
welfare other than cash assistance will not be
considered as welfare dependent.

3. Refugee: The Refugee Act of 1980 defined
refugees as (1) any person who is outside any country
of such a person's nationality, or, in the case of a
person having no nationality, as outside any country
in which the person last habitually resided, and who
is unable or unwilling to return to that country, and
is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of
the protection of that country because of political
persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on
account of race, religion, nationality, membership in
a particular social group, or political opinions; or
(2) in such special circumstances as the President,
after appropriate consultation, may specify, any
person who is within the country of such person's
nationality, within the country in which such person
is habitually residing, and who is persecuted or who
has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of
religion, race, nationality, membership in a
particular social group, or political opinion (Public
Law 96-212).
4. Southeast Asian Refugees: Vietnamese,
Cambodian, Laotian and Hmong (Laotian minority group)
refugees are considered Southeast Asian refugees.
Geographically, Hmong refugees are from Laos; however,
they have different language, different culture, and

different religion from the Laotian. In the United
States, they also do not want to identify themselves
with Laotians, although the group lives as an ethnic
minority in Laos.
5. Other Refugee Groups; These refugee groups
refer to those refugees who are not from Southeast
Asian countries. These include Soviet-Jewish, Eastern
European, Afghan, Ethiopian, etc.
Limitations of the Study
This study has the following limitations,
which may restrict generalizations:
1. The refugee resettlement program is
decentralized. Each state has its own resettlement
program, even if the state's program is overseen by
the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Therefore, the cases in Colorado are not always
representative of the nation as a whole in reaching a
generalized conclusion.
2. This study focuses on the achievement of
economic self-sufficiency within 18 months upon
arrival in the U.S. Therefore, the self-sufficiency
after 18 months will not be known.

3. The study is of the cross-cultural type
with limitations in terms of language and culture on
the part of both the researcher and the subjects.
4. Some five percent of Southeast Asian
refugees do not receive any form of welfare services.
Therefore, these five percent will not be considered
as a part of the target population of the study.

... The Republic ... could trace its
roots to the Poor Laws of Elizabethan
England. Its promise was elemental: A
civilized society does not let its people
starve in the streets (Murray, 1984, p. 16).
Early American values concerning the social
role of government were heavily influenced by English
traditions such as the adoption of the Poor Laws and
the belief in the moral value of work. In the United
States, a comprehensive federal system of social
services was established through the enactment of the
Social Security Act of 1935.
As can be seen in the following table figure,
the proportion of public expenditures for social
services to the Gross National Product (GNP) increased
at least until 1976, since the establishment of
comprehensive social welfare programs. Since 1976,
this proportion has declined from 19.5 percent in 1976
to 18.4 percent in 1985 (Bixby, 1988). However, the

proportion of private expenditures for social welfare
to the GNP has persistently increased from 4.6 percent
in 1950 and 8.0 percent in 1076, to 10.7 percent in
1985 (Kerns and Glanz, 1988).
Table 2.1 Public and Private Expenditures for
for Social Welfare and GNP
(Amounts in millions)
Fiscal Year Public Expenditures Total : 7. of GNP Private Expenditu Total :
1950 23.5 : 8.27. 12.2 4.67.
1955 32.6 : 8.27. - -
1960 52.3 : 10.37. - -
1965 77.2 : 11.57. 42.7 6.57.
1970 145.9 : 14.77. - -
1975 290.1 : 19.07. 124.9 7.87.
1976 332.0 : 19.57. 142.8 8.07.
1977 360.6 : 18.67. 164.1 8.27.
1978 394.4 X GO H 184.4 8.27.
1979 430.3 : 17.57. 208.9 8.37.
1980 492.5 : 18.57. 242.6 B. 97.
1981 550.5 : 18.47. 278.8 9.17.
1982 594.9 : 18.97. 316.9 10.07.
1983 641.2 : 19.37. 356.0 10.57.
1984 670.9 : 18.27. 392.1 10.47.
1985 727.9 18.47. 429.3 10.77.
Source of data for Table 2.1 and Figure 2.1s Bixby
(1988) and Kerns and Glanz (1988).

Figure 2.1 Public and Private Expenditures for
Social Welfare and GNP
Public Expenditures t Private Expenditures
Source of data for Table 2.1 and Figure 2.1: Bixby
(1988) and Kerns and Glanz (1988).
In reality, the cumulative costs for
maintaining existing programs, combined with slower
growth in the economy, caused the recent decrease in
the proportion of public expenditures for social
welfare to the BNP and the relative increase in the
proportion of private expenditures for social
services. The Reagan Administration severely cut
social welfare expenditures to support increases in
defense spending (Hansan, 1983). Critics of public
welfare, both conservatives, such as Murray (1984),
and liberals, such as Harrington (1962) and Govier
(1982), argued that the systems do not work as they
are supposed to work. While the former argued that

the systems encourage welfare dependency rather than
raising the income of poor people above the poverty
line, the latter responded that public assistance
should be given more generously on the basis of social
justice. This criticism of public welfare and slower
economic growth led to welfare reform in 1988.
Refugee resettlement programs established by
the 1980 Act are generally considered as a field of
public welfare programs (Fein, 1987), because their
purpose is to help refugees attain economic self-
sufficiency by making available to them such services
as cash assistance, medical assistance, and employment
services, which are provided to low income populations
in this country. The refugee resettlement program has
been administered by state agencies independently of
public welfare programs, although both are operated
under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services (Fein, 1987; Strand and Jones,
1985). Therefore, the U.S. welfare system is reviewed
to have a broad picture of refugee welfare programs.
Philosophical Views of Public Welfare
In a broad sense, the welfare system includes
both the private and public sectors. Welfare systems
in the private sector include those private

expenditures for health and medical care, education,
employment-related pension benefits, group life
insurance, sickness benefits, etc. (Berkowitz and
McQuaid, 1988, pp. 135-136). Welfare systems in the
public sector include government-supported systems
that supply assistance, usually in the form of cash
assistance, to those in need. The term "social
welfare systems" usually refers to public welfare.
Public welfare systems include: (1) social insurance
systems, such as QASDI (old-age, survivor's, and
disability insurance), Medicare, unemployment
insurance, worker's compensation, and temporary
disability insurance); (2) income support programs as
SSI (supplemental security income), AFDC (aid to
families with dependent children), Medicaid, food
stamps, low-income home energy assistance, public
housing, the school lunch program, and general
assistance; and (3) programs for members of special
groups, such as veterans, public employees, and
railroad employees (U.S. Social Security
Administration, April 1987).
Two extreme ideologies on public welfare
exist: capitalism and socialism. In a pure sense, the
former refuses public welfare, while the latter
accepts it. Public welfare is a product of socialism.
Therefore, in the sense of a free market system,

public welfare policy has often been defined as
government intervention to market economy (Dobelstein,
1986, pp. 13-14).
However, the American economy is generally a mixed, rather than pure, capitalism.
Neither of the two extreme ideologies alone can
explain all segments of the U.S. society. These
ideologies are mixed up in this society (McConnell,
1981, pp. 90-91). Philosophical views of public
welfare also are mixed rather than bipolarized as
capitalism and socialism or communism, as can be seen
A contemporary American conservative, Barry
Goldwater (1960), would not accept any form of public
welfare because he believed that public welfare is
developed on the basis of socialism. He even depicts
public welfare as a form of creeping socialism which
is harmful to both donors and recipients.
Murray (1984) supported Goldwater (1960).
Murray condemned welfare to able-bodied
individuals on the basis of capitalist doctrines. In
particular, he argued that the pure needy, such as the
disabled, the blind, and the elderly, may receive
public assistance, but that the able-bodied should
have responsibility for themselves.

Coe and Duncan (1985) attacked Murray's
opinion as, being factually and morally inadequate.
Furthermore, they argue that Murray has simply failed
to digest the emerging facts about the dynamic nature
of welfare use. For Coe and Duncan, the welfare
system is an indispensable safety net in a dynamic
society, serving largely as insurance against
temporary misfortune and providing some small measure
of equal opportunity in the home environment of
children who constitute the majority of recipients.
They believe that both society and individuals should
share responsibi1ity for poverty, by pointing out that
the U.S. welfare system was developed to increase the
standard of living for the poor and to provide them
with opportunities that may not have been normally a
Rescher (1972) also does not agree with the
Goldwater and Murray position in terms of the concept
of the welfare state. According to Rescher,
Nothing inherent in the concept of social
goals that comprises the program of the
welfare state requires espousal of the
socialistic route to the implementation of
the goals. The capitalistic route to the
welfare state not only is open but ... can
readily be traveled (p. 150).
While insisting that philosophical views of
public welfare in a given society should depend on

"what the society decides it should be" (1972, p.
114), Rescher advocates that U.S. public welfare is .
established on the basis of the welfare state. For
him, the welfare state has placed "an overemphasis on
the economic dimension of life" (1972, p. 166). He
envisions that the next generation of the welfare
state, termed the postwelfare state, will emphasize
the more positive tasks of forging circumstances that
encourage and support people in their efforts "to make
the best of themselves, rather than keep people above
the floor of administrative minima in access to goods
and services" (1972, p. 168).
Govier (1977) criticized Rescher's position by
stating his philosophical view of public welfare is
"what the society decides it should be." He claims
that the Rescher's position is inadequate from a moral
perspective because he leaves out the philosophical
views to a given society rather than provide a
perspective on public welfare (p. 326).
Govier (1977) wanted clear-cut philosophical
views of public welfare and presented three views:
the individualist view, the permissive view, and the
puritan view. According to the individualist view,
one ought not to have any legal right to state-
supplied welfare benefits, even in an affluent

society. Advocates of this view maintain that the
state has no business in appropriating other people's
money to give to those that are deemed poor. They
believe that private charitable organizations and acts
of private giving handle the problem effectively, and
that these private efforts should increase to the
extent that government greatly diminishes its roles in
providing welfare. Under the permissive view, in a
society with sufficient resources, one ought to have
an unconditional legal right to receive state-supplied
benefits. That is, one's right to receive such
benefits ought not to depend on one's behavior; it
should be guaranteed. Govier argued that the puritan
view of welfare has become a major basis of support
for welfare systems in the United States. This view
contains two interconnected principles. First,
welfare recipients should never receive a higher
income than the working poor. Second, welfare systems
should, in some way or another, incorporate incentives
to work. However, Govier concluded that the
permissive view can rightly claim superiority over the
others in regards to justice, since it protects the
rights of all within a society better than do
Puritanism and individualism.

Anderson (1978, pp. 68-70) presented three
philosophical approaches to welfare, which are similar
to Govier's. The first is the "private charity"
approach, which maintains that the state has no
business appropriating other people's money to give to
those that are deemed poor. The second is the "needy
only" approach, which holds that those unable to care
for themselves or their families should receive help
from the government. The third is the "guaranteed
income" approach, which suggests that everyone has a
right to a basic level of income and that no
restrictions should be placed on the use of the money.
Anderson (1978, p. 69) argued that the needy-only
approach is the one supported by the overwhelming
majority of Americans, while both the needy-only
approach and the guaranteed income approach are
serious contenders for the makers of welfare policy.
Dobelstein (1986, pp. 82-95) proposes that
American public welfare programs are based on four
beliefs, including capitalism, liberalism, positivism,
and pragmatism. Dobelstein discusses the basic
beliefs of these four ideologies: Capital ism
contributes the belief that welfare should help people
become independent; and welfare recipients, in return,

should work hard to achieve self-support status:
Liberal ism contributes the belief that self-help is
the best form of help by limiting government
intervention: Positivism suggests that scientific
explanations and cures for poverty can be found, which
can help the "unworthy" poor become independent by
using such means: Pragmatism is based on the belief
that sound welfare policies can be arrived at by
trial-and-error, indicating that welfare policies
should be continuously elaborated in a manner that
helps the recipients attain economic self-sufficiency.
A common belief of the four philosophical views is
that public assistance should be limited to the needy,
indicating hard work as a formula for personal
success, as opposed to the laziness of welfare
dependency. Therefore, society is only responsible
for helping people become economically self-
Michael Harrington (1962) severely criticized
the U.S. welfare system by arguing that it is not
built for the desperate, but for those who are already
capable of helping themselves. For him, being poor is
not one aspect of a person's life in this country. It
is the description of an entire group in the society

who became poor because of the conditions under which
they live.. In this sense, Harrington indicates that
poverty is a culture in America; and, therefore,
society must help the poor before they can help
themselves (1969, pp. 158-162). He (1972) argues that
socialism can accomplish this goal.
In summary, a common denominator of
philosophical views of public welfare does not exist.
Opinions range from a pure capitalistic view to
socialistic views, from those who reason from
philosophical bases to those who hold that welfare is
what social convention define it to be, and from those
who consider public welfare as a social system to help
the poor to those who consider it as a means to calm
down social disorder.
History of the U.S. Social Welfare Systems
Chronologically, the New Deal stood for the
first major moves toward social welfare programs in
the United States. "During the Great Depression,
personal income plummeted, the number of business
failures soared, and the unemployment rates rose as
high as 25 percent" (Cohen and Rogers, 1986, p. 30).
In addition, private charity for the poor became
inadequate, since the country, itself, improvised to

cope with the Depression. There were so many in need,
but a lack of funds in government. Therefore, a
comprehensive public welfare program was badly needed
(Schlesinger, 1958, pp. 263-315). To meet this need,
the U.S. Congress enacted the Social Security Act of
1935 and launched it as a "relief measure" (Dye,
However, in the several decades since its
establishment, it was found that welfare programs did
not meet expectations. The U.S. economy was
prosperous, but the poor did not gain self-
sufficiency. Poverty, then, was seen as self-
perpetuating. The children of the poor and ill-
educated started school at a disadvantage, and soon
fell behind (Marris and Rein, 1967, p. 38). In
addition, public welfare was abused: aid to families
with dependent children (AFDC), originally designed to
help widows bring up their children, came to be used
by unmarried mothers (Murray, 1984, pp. 18-20; and
Harrington, 1962).
Encouraged by the economic growth during
1960s, the development of various job training
programs for the poor was triggered. Dye (1981)
characterized this development as a "curative

strategy." The Congress enacted the Manpower
Development and Training Act in 1962, the Economic
Opportunity Act in 1964, and the Comprehensive
Employment and Training Act in 1973. The war on
poverty was launched. Patterson (1981, pp. 153-164)
argued that the war on poverty lifted poverty from
benign neglect to a place on the public agenda and
contributed to the explosion in welfare.
However, this curative strategy failed,
although such scholars as Patterson (1981) argued that
an evaluation of the war on poverty confronts manifold
difficulties. Dye (1981) summarized the reasons for
The Office of Economic Opportunity (0E0)
was always the scene of great confusion. New
and untried programs were organized at break-
neck speed. There was a high turnover in
personnel. There was delay and confusion in
releasing funds to local community action
agencies. There was scandal and corruption,
particularly at the local level. Community
action agencies with young and inexperienced
personnel frequently offended experienced
governmental administrators as well as local
political figures. Congressional action was
uncertain, the project's life was was
expended for a year at a time, and
appropriations were often delayed. But most
damaging of all, even though programs were
put in operation, there were little concrete
evidence that these programs was successful
in their objectives, that is, in eliminating
the causes of poverty (p. 136).

Welfare reform went over to the Nixon
administration as an unsolved problem. At the annual
meeting of the American Economic Association in
December, 1974, Alice Rivlin proposed scrapping the
existing welfare system in favor of a negative income
tax entirely separate from any other kind of social
service (Anderson, 1978, p. 75). She argued that the
negative income tax not only secures minimum income
for the poor but encourages work incentives (Dye,
1981, p. 129).
"The Nixon administration attempted to
consolidate the nation's many programs and substitute
cash for services. The vehicle he chose to accomplish
the results was called the Family Assistance Plan"
(Berkowitz and McQuade, 1988, p. 206), which adapted
the negative income tax. However, the proposal was
not approved. Anderson (1978) stated:
The negative income tax ... had a
simplistic beauty that seduced many. But the
negative income tax proposal was flawed, not
in the logic of its development, but in the
validity of its assumptions. It was assumed
that it would replace all other welfare
programs, including social welfare programs
such as social security. This was
politically impossible at the time, and still
is (pp. 77-78).
The Carter administration also proposed a
welfare reform called the Program for Better Jobs and

Income (PBJI) "to provide job opportunities for those
able to work, and a simplified uniform cash assistance
program for those who are unable to work due to
disability, age or family circumstances" (Transcript
of the President's News Conference, August 6, 1977).
According to PBJI, a basic payment would be given to
families that have no earnings. The basic payment
would phase out completely when their earnings reach a
certain level. The basic plan of PBJI can be
summarized into three parts: the first part was to
eliminate aid to families with dependent children
(AFDC), food stamps, supplemental security income
(SSI), and certain types of state general assistance,
and to establish a comprehensive cash assistance
program; the second part was to use the federal income
tax system to make welfare payments to people with
earnings (this part is operated through both a tax
reimbursement scheme and an earned income tax credit);
and the third part was an expanded employment
opportunities program (Anderson, 1978, pp. 194-199).
Anderson (1978, p. 169) criticized PBJI: the
thrust of PBJI is to further the idea of a negative
income tax, expending welfare into the heart of the
middle class of America. The PBJI was not approved by
the U.S. Congress.

Welfare Reform Approaches
Approaches to welfare reform are aligned
with the philosophical views presented previously, as
can be seen below:
Conservative. Those who are tied to
capitalism generally do not support generosity of
public welfare. Murray (1984, pp. 227-228) documents
the failure of public welfare programs, claiming that
they reward the least industrious of the poor while
punishing the most industrious. He advocates the
Gordian knot solution: cut the knot, for there is no
way to untie it. He proposes scrapping the entire
federal welfare and income-support structure for
working-aged persons, including AFDC, Medicaid, food
stamps, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation,
subsidized housing, disability insurance, and similar
Liberalism. Liberals, such as Harrington
(1962 and 1984), are close to socialism and favor
generosity in public welfare. Harrington's theme of
welfare reform is quite revolutionary. Since
Harrington (1962) considers poverty in the United

States as a culture, he suggests abolishing the
In part, this can be done by offering
real opportunities to these people, by
changing the social reality that gives rise
to their sense of hopelessness. But beyond
that (these fears of the poor have a life of
their own and are not simply rooted in
analyses of employment chances), there should
be a spirit, an elan, that communicates
itself to the entire society (1962, 167).
In this context, Harrington (1962) argues that
society must help them before they can help
themselves. Harrington strongly asserts that
society should have responsibility for individuals
being poor on the basis of socialism. According to
him, socialism proposes to end individual competition
and venality. He also believes that socialism will
open "a new history" (1962, p. 373).
The Work-Pay Approach. Advocates of the work-
pay approach assume that people like to work. They
propose scrapping the welfare system altogether in
favor of a general system of income payments that is
entirely separate from any other kind of social
service. For advocates of this approach, a "negative
income tax" would guarantee everyone a minimum income.
It would also encourage recipients of such benefits to
work by allowing them to keep a proportion of their

earnings without deducting it from the minimum income
guarantee (Dye, 1981, p. 129). The advocates of this
approach include Friedman (1962), Moynihan (1969),
Aaron (1973), and Goodwin (1972).
Friedman developed the idea of the negative
income tax in the early 1940s. The idea was that if
nothing were earned, a worker would receive the full
amount of the guaranteed income. As his or her
earnings increased, the guarantee would be reduced and
phased out completely at the "break-even" level, after
which he or she would have to begin to pay taxes (Dye,
1981, p. 129; Anderson, 1978, p. 77).
Moynihan (1973, p. 18) states that the poor
are not only those who are unable to work due to their
physical and mental condition or old age, but also
those who own nothing and earn nothing. When such
persons are very young or old, allowances are made.
But when they are of the age when other persons work
to earn their way and, further, if they are dependent
during periods when work can be found, dependency
becomes a stigma.
Aaron (1973) agrees with Moynihan and
advocates that the effective way to create work
incentives is to make work pay. The person who earns

more must derive sufficient gain to make the extra
work worthwhile.
Goodwin (1972) supports the idea of a negative
income tax. He advocates that the idea of a negative
income tax can promote personal satisfaction. He
states that for some adults, including many welfare
recipients, work is an end in itself, a means to
personal satisfaction and social status; such people
will work for psychological gains, even if the
financial reward is small.
Welfare to Work. The guiding principle of the
advocates of the welfare-to-work approach is that the
work ethic requires employable welfare recipients to
earn income through work rather than depending on
welfare (Levitan, Rein, and Marwick, 1972, pp. 110-
112). The advocates of this position are Martin
Anderson (1978), Lawrence Mead (1986), and George
Gilder (1986).
Anderson (1978) argues that welfare reform
should include the enforcement of a fair, clearly
stated work requirement. Anderson comments that our
welfare programs should be guided by the simple
principle that a person gets welfare only if he or she
qualifies for it by the fact of being incapable of

self-support. If they do not qualify, they have no
right to welfare. Rather than being encouraged to
find work, they should be given reasonable notice and
then be removed from the welfare rolls.
Mead (1986) argues that it is time to think
about "obligations rather than rights." For him,
welfare reform should be employed to set some
standards for the recipients. Mead recommends
requiring as a condition of support that recipients
fulfill various social obligations and, especially,
that they work (Berkowitz and McQuaid, 1988, pp. 209-
Gilder (1986) advocates the encouragement of
work incentives through limits of public assistance"
(pp. 68-69). According to Gilder, "We must
abandon the idea of completely eliminating poverty by
distributing money to the poor" (1986, pp. 68-69).
The current crop of welfare reform proposals
usually support the idea of mixing employment and
training service programs with welfare. Some
proposals support providing a voluntary job-search
program and some training to help recipients find jobs
and to make the transition to self-support. Others
would impose mandatory work programs for mothers with

older children who have not found work (Ellwood, 1988,
p. 151). .Still other proposals would include
mandatory removal of the workable poor from welfare
rolls (Anderson, 1978).
In this regard, much empirical research has
been done on mandatory work programs for welfare
recipients. Goldman et al., (1986) and Gueron (1986)
show that mandatory work programs for welfare
recipients have worked in the past. These researchers
report that welfare recipients who are put into
mandatory work programs usually react favorably and
are grateful for the opportunity to do something
productive, and that the benefits of such programs
exceed the cost of putting them into effect.
Welfare Reform under the Reagan
Welfare reform efforts under the Reagan
administration centered on limiting aid to the truly
needy through purging the welfare rolls and forcing as
many welfare recipients as possible to work. In the
Reagan years, the concept that guided policy portrayed
the poor as flawed, lacking in civility, and as
victims of government benevolence. The poor were a
race apart who could best benefit from what previous

generations had called "self-help" and "benign
neglect" (Berkowitz and McQuaid, 1988, p. 209).
Reagan's approach has become a reality. In
September, 1988, Congress passed legislation that
makes the most sweeping changes in the welfare system
in a half- century, including the first federal work
requirement for welfare recipients.
Key elements of the welfare reform bill
(1) The 23 states, including Colorado, that
currently do not offer welfare benefits to two-parent
households will have to do so for at least six months
of each year, starting in fiscal year 1991.
(2) A welfare-to-work program will create a
Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (JOBS) program that
offers job training, education, and work experience.
This plan seeks to shift the emphasis of the welfare
system from cash benefits to work.
(3) Starting in 1994, one adult from each
welfare family would have to participate in an
intensive job search and 16 hours a week of a state-
organized work activity or education that would lead
to a high school diploma.
(4) JOBS participants will receive
transportation and child-care help. Those parents who

are working their way off the welfare rolls would
qualify for a year of transitional child care and
Medicaid benefits.
(5) Parents with children under the age of one
to three (a state option) will be exempt from JOBS
(6) States will have to step up child-support
collections from non-custodial parents, including the
adoption of tougher paternity determination
requirements and mandatory wage withholding upon the
court award of support payments.
The Reagan welfare reforms raise a very
controversial issue, since they include a welfare-to-
work provision. This provision, the most critical
attempt to shift welfare dependency to work, may be
unconstitutional, because it may limit the freedom of
choice. At this point, it is too early to say whether
or not the Reagan reforms are legal, or whether they
will work.
It seems that there is no underlying agreement
on the philosophical basis for the U.S. public welfare
system: some position emphasize individual
responsibility; others stress the responsibility of

society, basing their arguement on socialist ideas.
Those who support a mixed economy are divided into two
groups: some authors underscore more capitalistic
than socialistic ideas; and others stress more
socialistic than capitalistic ideas.
Table 2.2 Public Welfare: Philosophical Views,
Reforms, and Legislation
Capitalism Mixed Economy Socialism
i S --- -* J Philoso-: Private phical : Charity Views :(Indivi- dualists) :Puritan :View, :Needy only : PermissiveiSocialism : View, : iNegative : :Income Tax:
Respon- :Individuals : Individuals rSociety is Society
sibi1ity: rare grater zgreater
: than :than indi-
:Society :viduals
Reform : Cut knot :Welfare to :Negative Necessities
2 : work :Income tax are free
Legis- : : Welfare sNixon's
lation : : Reform :Welfare
: in 1988 :Reform
Authors : Murray, : Mead, :Friedman, Riesman,
: Boldwater : Anderson, :Aaron, and
: Gilder :Moynihan Harrington
As can be seen in the table above, the four
views have their own theoretical bases; however, the
current legislation seems to support the puritan views
of public welfare, since the 1988 welfare reform

movement requires welfare recipients to participate in
vocational training as a condition of receiving public

Refugees are different from immigrants in many
ways. First, refugees are involuntary migrants, while
immigrants are often voluntary ones. Second, refugee
migration is forced by a fear of retaliation and
repression, while immigrant migration is mostly due to
economic reasons and family reasons. Therefore,
refugee population movements have been characterized
as being rapid and without adequate preparation.
Third, refugees in the United States are entitled to
welfare services such as cash assistance within a
certain length of time, but immigrants are not (Strand
and Jones, 1985, pp. 1-5). Therefore, most studies on
refugees have focused on the achievement of economic
self-sufficiency, while those on immigrants mainly
have laid stress on social adjustment (Kitano, 1976;
Levine and Montero, 1973; Lyman, 1974). Since this
study is centered on the achievement of refugee

economic self-sufficiency, not their on their social
adjustment, a literature review on immigrants are not
This chapter is divided into four sections.
First, the history of refugee welfare programs will be
discussed, while examining the reform movement of
refugee welfare programs. Second, philosophical views
of refugee welfare programs and welfare dependency
problems should be reviewed. Third, previous studies
on Southeast Asian cultures and traditions and their
pattern of economic self-sufficiency have to be
reviewed, since this study focuses on Southeast Asian
refugee groups in Colorado. Finally, previous studies
on factors determining refugee economic self-
sufficiency and the effectiveness of refugee
resettlement programs should be reviewed, since the
primary focus of this study is on refugee economic
History of Refugee Welfare Programs
It seems that no major reform movement for
refugee welfare programs has been developed over the
years in regard to U.S. refugee policies, at least
before the establishment of the 1980 Refugee Act.
Rather, refugee resettlement programs were developed

and later reformed due to the influx of large groups
of refugees into the United States. If any reform
movements existed, they were confrontations between a
group of internationalists who asked a higher level of
protection and financial assistance to refugees and a
group of conservatives who objected to the U.S.
responsibility for refugee protection and assistance.
Since the enactment of the 1980 Act, opinions on
refugee welfare reform have become more elaborate.
Instead of simple acceptance or refusal of public
assistance to refugees, the opinions divided into
those that require more governmental rather than
individual roles in refugee resettlement and those who
require more individual rather than government roles
in the refugee resettlement. The former is
characterized as the humanistic view, while the latter
is called "collective altruism."
Pre-Refugee Act of 1980: Incremental
Development. A controversy between nationalism and
international ism was prevalent before and after World
War II. The U.S. opened its door to refugees in an
incremental way until 1980 (Holborn, 1975) by
experiencing World War II, the Cuban Revolution, and
the Indochina War.

Since its beginnings, U.S. ideals have been
oriented toward an open society for immigrants and
refugees, although these ideals have not always been
matched by the nation's policies. Immigration to the
United States was virtually unrestricted before 1875,
when the federal government put restrictions on
immigration, including refugees, and prohibited
prostitutes and convicts from entry (Levine, Hill and
Warren, 1985). From 1921 to 1940, most immigrants
were from northern and western Europe. During this
period, all refugees had to enter the United States as
immigrants. Therefore, no special policy for refugees
The Nazi regime had a significant effect on
U.S. refugee policies. As in Nazi Germany, anti-
Semitism also was present in the U.S. For example, as
a candidate for Congress, Joseph E. McWilliams, in
1940, informed an enthusiastic crowd, "I am the anti-
Jewish candidate for Congress" (Wyman, 1968, p. 14).
In spite of this anti-Semitism, in 1937, President
Roosevelt took the initiative in convening the Evian
Conference, which was attended by Latin American and
western European countries. At this conference, the
Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees (IGCR) was
established to facilitate the exodus of refugees from

Germany and Austria and to seek resettlement for them.
As a result of the Bermuda Conference in 1943, the
scope of the IGCR activities were extended to all
refugees in Europe. The member governments agreed to
contribute funds for operational activities.
Riding on the crest of international refugee
concern, termed internationalism, the U.S. government
established the War Refugee Board as a result of
President Roosevelt's Executive Order. The
international feeling was oriented toward
phi 1 anthrophy and voluntarism that is intended to
protect and help refugees (Divine, 1957; and Wyman,
1968). However, the feeling of nationalism was
directed against foreign-born immigrants and refugees.
While nationalists, such as Representatives John
Randkin of Mississippi and Martin Dies of Texas and
Senators Robert Reynolds of North Carolina and Rufus
Holman of Oregon, supported the limiting of refugee
entry in to the U.S., internationalists, mostly
voluntary agencies (VOLAG), worked to open the door
more widely to refugees (Wyman, 1968, pp. 1-42). This
was followed by the establishment of the Office of the
Advisor on Refugees and Displaced Persons within the
State Department. The Board worked closely with
VOLAG. Those agencies represented a variety of

groups, such as church, foreign nationality, national
societies, etc. All refugees were entitled to have
free access to the agencies that existed for general
assistance to the immigrants. However, refugees
mainly received resettlement services from friends or
relatives during this period because they were
considered immigrants.
Along with the U.S. policies, the groups that
supported refugees were organized. Their efforts
resulted in the enactment of the 1948 Displaced Person
Act (DP Act), which was amended in 1950. The DP Act
marked a turning point in American refugee policy
making. Refugees were now considered to be different
than immigrants. An actual refugee resettlement
policy, although not comprehensive, was established.
Under the Act, a comprehensive system of public and
private social service agencies was established and
coordinated to help the new Americans adjust to their
new homeland. Refugees admitted under the Act were
sponsored by VOLAGs, while ordinary immigrants were
usually sponsored by relatives or friends (Holborn,.
The Cuban Revolution in 1959 had a critical
effect on U.S. refugee policies. Following Castro's
victory, large groups of Cuban refugees sought

sanctuary in the United States. Presidents Eisenhower
and Kennedy made federal funds available to help cope
with the refugee problem. The Cuban refugee program
was responsible for the reception and registration of
refugees upon arrival in Miami, classification of job
skills, reimbursement to the states for welfare
assistance and services rendered to needy refugees,
education and health services, and resettlement from
Miami to homes, job opportunities, and reunion with
relatives in other parts of the United States.
In March 1980, Cuban Prime Minister Fidel
Castro declared, as he had in 1965, that Cuban
citizens would be permitted to leave Cuba if they
wished. After the declaration, several hundred
thousand Cubans arrived in the United States.
Sponsors were sought, first within the Cuban-American
community and then elsewhere. Refugee assistance
centers were opened in several cities. However, these
voluntary agencies could not handle a large number of
Cuban refugees. To make relocation and and emergency
relief funds available, the Cuban and Haitian Refugee
Emergency Assistance Act was passed by Congress in
June 1980 (Llanes, 1982, p. 178).
Just as in the Cuban Revolution, the fall of
Saigon in 1975 resulted in many Southeast Asian

refugee problems. The influx of Southeast Asian
refugees added to the wave of Cubans, influenced the
U.S. government to establish a permanent refugee
program. In 1980, the Refugee Act was enacted,
signaling signaled the establishment a comprehensive
refugee welfare program. The U.S. Congress summarized
the objectives of the Act into two points:
To provide a permanent and systematic
procedure for the admission to this country
of refugees of special humanitarian concern
to the United States, and to provide
comprehensive and uniform provisions for the
effective resettlement and absorption of
those refugees who are admitted (Public Law
Post-Refuoee Act. The fall of Saigon in 1975
became a turning point of the U.S. refugee
resettlement policies due to the following reasons.
First, a tremendous number of Southeast Asian refugees
arrived in the U.S. afterward. These refugees, known
as "boat people," mounted up to 77,000 in 1979 and
164,000 in 1980 (Refugee Reports. December 18, 1987).
Second, in spite of the UNHCR's appeal to countries in
this world for permanent asylum, as many countries
became reluctant to accept boat people, the U.S.
assumed the bulk of responsibility due to its
involvement with the Indochina War, Therefore, the
U.S. accepted a large number of refugees. Third, due

to continuous refugee arrival, American policymakers
realized that refugees were not a temporary
phenomenon, but an ongoing one. Fourth, boat people
arrived in the U.S. with no money and no belongings.
They would join with the U.S. poor if the U.S. refused
to asist them. Therefore, the U.S. was in need of the
establishment of a comprehensive refugee resettlement
program rather than an enactment in force only for a
limited period of time (Strand and Jones, 1985, pp. 5-
11). As a result, the 1980 Refugee Act was enacted.
The 1980 Act made cash assistance available
for refugees. Since that enactment, cash assistance
has been continuously reduced. At first, federal
funding was to be provided during the first 36 months
that the refugee was in the United States. In 1982,
new federal regulations reduced refugee eligibility
limits to 18 months and required refugees to register
for employment services within the first 60 days of
arrival and to participate in job and language
training as a condition of receiving cash assistance.
Again, the eligibility period was reduced to 12 months
in October, 1988.
Strand and Jones (1985, p. 38) and federal
officers (Federal Register. 1987b) supported
the reduction in the time limitation. They felt

that without a time limit on federally funded
support, refugees would develop a welfare mentality.
Also they argued that the time limit should be reduced
as economic conditions continue to deteriorate and the
welfare dependency rates climb. This view on refugee
welfare reform can be characterized as collective
altruism, since this view stresses more individual
rather than societal roles in developing refugee
economic self-sufficiency.
Groups of social workers in the field of
refugee resettlement seem to support more humanistic
views. They argue that the reduction in the time
limitation leaves too little time to allow for
sufficient English language and skills training, as
well as the adjustment to U.S. society, for refugees
to become employed. They also mentioned that the
reduction would result in refugees' being stuck in
dead-end jobs as a result of having to go to work
before they had sufficient training (Federal Register.
Federal regulations supported.the opinion of
Strand and Jones and reduced the time limitation to 12
months. This reduction was imposed for the following

(1) To provide refugees with stronger
incentives, to gain employment and to become self-
sufficient as rapidly as possible after their
arrival in the United States.
(2) To reduce the likelihood of unnecessary
welfare dependency, resulting from extended periods of
special support.
(3) To reduce federal expenditures to help
meet the objectives of the Balanced Budget and
Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
(4) To reduce the degree of special treatment
afforded to refugees, which results in unequal
treatment among low-income populations.
(5) To reduce total refugee welfare costs,
while continuing to relieve states of the cost of cash
and medical assistance provided to refugees during
their initial period in the United States (Federa1
Register. 1987a).
Overall, refugee welfare reforms have been
incrementally performed up to 1980. Since that time,
the cash assistance made available to refugees has
been severely reduced to reduce welfare dependency,
while requiring refugees to participate in job and
English training as a condition of receiving cash
This context, which emphasizes job

training as a condition of receiving public assistance
in refugee welfare reform, has a connection to public
welfare reform. As has been shown, the 1988 public
welfare reform movement also requires participation in
job training as a condition of obtaining public
Approaches and Welfare Dependency
Philosophical Approaches
... Isolated and deprived of the
protection of a national government, the
refugee carries handicaps that intensify the
difficulties of meeting ordinary needs. His
ability to move from one country to another -
- even to return to his country of birth
is restricted by his statelessness, de facto
or de jure; moreover, he is often
discriminated against in educational
opportunities, ability to secure a job, and
right to social services (Holborn, 1975,
The task of caring for refugees indicates an
international as well as a domestic audience. Refugee
problems as an internationa1 concern have been
continuously raised by the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Its major concern
is protection and assistance to refugee resettlement
(Singh, 1984). The United States has kept in step
with UNHCR by enacting the 1980 Refugee Act which
established a comprehensive refugee resettlement

program (Fein, 1987). In this regard, philosophical
views of refugee resettlement programs can be highly
influenced by the philosophical views of UNHCR.
Refugee welfare programs are generally
considered as a field of public welfare programs
(Fein, 1987). Therefore, the philosophical views of
refugee resettlement programs should be analogous to
those of public welfare.
Philosophical views regarding refugee welfare
can be summarized into four: conservatism;
liberalism; humanitarianism adopted by UNHCR;
collective altruism advocated by Fein (1987).
Conservatism. Conservatism on refugee
resettlement programs is mostly based on unemployment
in the U.S. domestic economy, nativistic nationalism,
and anti-Semitism. These are the three major factors
that generate public resistance to immigration of
refugees and a general dislike of aliens (Wyman, 1968,
p. 3) .
Conservatives, predictably, have resistance to
the notion of public assistance to refugees.
According to Peters et al. (1983), some conservatives
maintain that refugees should not be given welfare,
since their life in the United States is far better
than that in their respective countries in any event.

In this view, refugees do not have any right to
receive resettlement services. Palmieri (1982)
advocates that voluntary donations and voluntarism is
likely to become a substitute for national commitment
and planning by criticizing government involvement in
refugee resettlement programs. In addition, Mead
(1984) argues that refugees have a welfare mentality:
In previous eras, immigrants ...
usually accepted such jobs (low-skilled) in
the hope that they or their offspring could
improve their condition through hard work,
saving, (and) education. Today they are more
likely to shift restlessly from job to job
... or live off welfare or other programs
(1984, p. 34).
Liberal ism Liberals, such as Harrington
(1984), attack conservatives as being naive. He
indicated that although immigrants have worked hard,
their chance to became middle class is not great. In
this regard, Harrington argues that refugees need
special care (pp. 167-178).
Humanitarianism. The Humanitarian view of
the refugee problem is adopted by the U.N. The very
first Article of the U.N. Chapter introduces one of
the basic purposes of the UN as achievement of
"international co-operation in solving international
problems of ... humanitarian character, and in
promoting ... respect for human rights"

(Singh, 1984, p. 1). A resolution of UNHCR was
adopted by the U.N. General Assembly. This resolution
states that the work of UNHCR "shall be humanitarian
... and shall relate, as a rule, to groups and
categories of refugees (Singh, p. 80). This
humanitarian aspect supports the view that refugees
should be treated the same as nationals with respect
to public relief and assistance. According to this
perspective, the level of support for the resettlement
of these refugees should be large enough for them to
become self-supporting.
Collective Altruism. Fein (1987) argues that
refugee welfare systems are established on the basis
of collective altruism. Fein understands altruism as
behavior helping others (pp. 17-31). Collective
altruism refers to helping behavior of the public or
groups rather than that of individuals. Fein argues
that the U.S. refugee resettlement policy benefits
people who are not members of its own society. The
benefits are provided by government. Therefore, the
philosophical basis of refugee resettlement programs
should be altruism.
For Fein, giving refugees should be
controlled to assure equity of entitlements between
refugees and low-income individuals. This implies the

"need for an integrated approach toward planning for
the welfare of one's own constituencies and of
refugees for both the sake of equity and the political
viability of refugee programs" (1987, p. 129). Fein
concludes that the legitimation of sponsorship
depends on public affirmation that we are responsible
for our neighbors here also.
Fein (1987) indicates that both public and
private sectors have responsibility for refugee
While refugee resettlement in some
nations is wholly a government responsibility
performed by officials and professionals, in
the United States citizens as well as
voluntary organizations and the state have
distinctive roles, the system "tests," in a
sense, the openness of communities toward
strangers, for under U.S. law, all refugees
legally admitted must have sponsor. The
sponsors, while not legally responsible for
their maintenance, are expected to enable them
to find a job, learn English, secure whatever
assistance is needed, and find and furnish
housing (p. 49).
In this regard, Fein argues that as accepting
refugees becomes recognized as a national obligation
and the U.S. government is viewed as responsible for
offering the same level and use of resources for
resettlement as those for public welfare, refugees, in
turn, will be responsible for the achievement of
economic self-sufficiency as soon as possible for

their own sakes. This philosophical view of refugee
resettlement is identical to the puritan view of
public welfare in the fact that the two emphasize that
individuals as well as society take responsibility for
their poverty.
In sum, it seems to be no common denominator
in the four philosophical views. Each view presents
its own level of public assistance to refugees.
However, among the four views, the present legislation
on refugee resettlement programs seems to support the
view of collective altruism because the 1980 Refugee
Act treats refugees, as a group, differently from the
low-income population in the United States and because
the Act entitles refugees to receive non-categorical
refugee assistance (NCRA) for 12 months upon their
arrival in the United States under the same social
welfare umbrella.
Welfare Dependency
Theoretically, the four philosophical views
have developed different opinions on where the
responsibility for refugee poverty should lie.
Conservatives argued that individual refugees should
be responsible for their economic self-sufficiency,
while liberals advocated that society should take the

responsibility. The humanitarian view has emphasized
more government role than individual role in refugee
resettlement, while the view of collective altruism
emphasizes both government and individual roles.
In reality, issues on refugee welfare
dependency have been continuously raised since the
establishment of the 1980 Refugee Act. Federal policy
makers often pointed out that there were no incentives
for refugees to become self-sufficient (Strand and
Jones, 1985, p. 142). They especially suggest the
reduction of the federal role in refugee resettlement.
However, social workers who have daily contact with
refugees have opinions different from the federal
policy makers. They suggest that refugees need
special care in order to become economically self-
sufficient (Federal Register. 1987a) on the
basis of the following two reasons: First, the
refugees' lack of skill in English and
underutilization of their skills due to their poor
English are common problems that plague refugees in
their quest for achievement of economic self-
sufficiency (Montero, 1979); and second, jobs open to
refugees in this country are, for the most part, lower
level positions, offering low pay and little

opportunity for advancement. This is true in the
general low-income population, but it is more serious
for the refugee poor, since refugees are not familiar
with the job market in the United States (Kelly, 1977;
Liu and Muratta, 1977).
Southeast Asian Refugees
Southeast Asian refugees, who have entered the
United States since the end of the Indochina War,
represent a new kind of refugee population. These
refugees include Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and
Hmong. Approximately 850,000 Southeast Asian refugees
had arrived in the U.S. by the end of 1987. The
Vietnamese are the largest group. Its population was
close to 530,000. The Cambodian was approximately
140.000. The Laotian was close to 180,000.
Approximately half of the Laotian population is Hmong
(Refugee Reports. December 18, 1987). Southeast Asian
refugees in Colorado number about 12,000. Out of the
12.000, Vietnamese are some 5,000; Cambodian are close
to 2,100; Laotians are around 2,000; and Hmong are
close to 2,000 (CRISP Data Base).
As a whole, the four groups emphasize strong
family unity, trying to keep the family unit together

as much as possible. They also have recently shared
common experiences, such as a long period of French
influence as well as the experience of Indochina War.
However, the four groups have different
languages, traditions and cultural backgrounds. While
the Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian groups, living
in lowland deltas, have a long tradition, state-level
political organization, Hmong as a tribe are primarily
farmers with village-level political organization
(Knoll, 1982).
Vietnam, in contrast to its neighbors, has
been influenced by China in terms of its philosophy
and religion. This has separated them from their
neighbors (Strand and Jones, 1985, p. 23). Therefore,
although there are many Buddhists in Vietnam,
Confucian teachings are at the basis of their way of
Confucianism considers virtue as the supreme
value. Confucians have established three bonds and
five moral rules in human relations on the basis of
virtue. The three bonds preseribe that there should
be a strong ties between king and subject, parents and
children and wife and husband. The five moral rules
are summarized as loyalty and trustworthiness between

king and subject, intimacy between parents and
children,,distinction between wife and husband, order
between the elder and the younger, and faith between
and among friends. They also have adopted ancestor
worship as a major teaching.
According to Confucianism, failure in
government must conversely be due to a lack of virtue
in the sovereign. Therefore, the Confucian ruler must
ultimately be held morally responsible for disorder
within his realm. Mencius, one of the great Confucian
scholars, advocated that monarchs be effective rulers,
otherwise the people have the right to rebel.
Therefore, Confucians are not always submissive. They
sometimes can be very resistant.
Unlike the Vietnamese, Buddhism is a way of
life for Cambodians. Cambodian Buddhism is
characterized as Theravada Buddhism called "lesser
vehicle." In a general sense, Buddhism offers nirvana
hope and salvation to its member. Theravada
Buddhism advocates that nirvana can be attained by
practicing ascetics, while Mahayanist Buddhism
stresses that Buddhists can pass into niravana by
studying scriptures. Theravada Buddhism offers the
direct path to nirvana to only a few ascetics, while

the Mahayana Buddhism (greater vehicle) offers it to
the many. Therefore, Theravada Buddhism emphasizes,
quiteism, steadiness, pessimism, and further
submissiveness (Chandler, 1760).
Cambodians also maintain hierarchical society
inherited from India. Social order in terms of
seniority is very strict. A strong hierarchical
society is a characteristic of Indianization in
Cambodia. In addition, Cambodian Buddhism joined with
animism can help the spirit's conflict. Many times
Western-style counseling and medication cannot ease
mental conflicts for Cambodians, although Buddhist
monks can da somethings about it (Knoll, 1982, p.
291) .
Laotian Buddhism also is characterized as
Theravada Buddhism. It is more actively joined with
animism in Laos than in Cambodian. In that country,
Buddhist monks sometimes become village exorcists.
They try to reduce the influence of spirits that are
conflicting with a person, leading to mental turmoil
or disease by using Buddhist rituals that overlap with
the animist ceremonies. Theravada Buddhism has
influenced the educational system and day-to-day life
in Laos. Buddhist monks perform rituals based Upon
the harvest and planting seasons to ensure well-being.

On certain days monks perform ceremonies in the
cemeteries where the ashes of ancestors were buried.
In this way they blessed family homes and ancestors.
Monks also handle the funeral rituals which see to the
spirit needs of the dead and the living. They, of
course, teach the guidelines of Buddhism (Knoll,
In many respects, Laos and Cambodia are
members of a general Theravada Buddhist lowland
culture. They have similar kinship systems, animist
beliefs, mode of production, and world view (Strand
and Jones, 1985, 19). For the two, all productive
property and family labor is collectively owned and
used by the household, under the supervision of the
family, usually the senior male (Strand and Jones,
1985, pp. 19-23).
The Hmong are representative of the tribal
hill peoples of Southeast Asia. They have a high
degree of ethnic identity and political and social
solidarity. They prefer to live above 3,000 feet
elevation and are highly migratory. This migratory
circle usually occurs in ten-years interval (Strand
and Jones, 1985, pp. 16-17).
The Hmong believe in a supreme creator. Some
Hmong, even in this country, wonder if the spirits of

"home, hearth, water, and thunder" exist here. They
are more likely to be shamanists. This belief has led
to the establishment of a strong clan system (Knoll,
The differences in philosophy and behaviors
between the four major Southeast Asian refugee groups
can be summarized in the following table:
Table 3.1 Differences in Philosophy and Behavior
among Four Major Southeast Asian
Refugee Groups
: Vietnamese : Laotian : Cambodian Hmong
Philosophy :Confucianism :Theravada Shamanism
or :is greater :Buddhism is
Religion :than Buddhism rgreater than :Confucianism
Behavior ztiore resistant : than :submissive, :and more :likely :challenger :More sub- missive than :resistant, :and more :likely :listener Migratory
As a result of the differences and
similarities of the four Southeast Asian refugees in
culture and philosophy, these groups should be
considered as a whole and separately to examine the
commonalties and similarities in the achievement
pattern of economic self-sufficiency, because these
differences might lead refugees to act differently

toward government services, welfare programs, and
ultimately, attaining economic self-sufficiency.
Many social workers connected with refugee
resettlement programs have raised issues that the
Hmong have an extremely hard time adjusting to U.S.
culture and achieving economic self-sufficiency and
have asked the federal government to establish a
special program. Strand and Jones (1985) support that
opinion. They found that "the Hmong had the highest
ranking of difficulties with American life, American
prejudice, and difficulties with American agencies"
(p. 136). They also found that the Hmong place a
high value on independence and self-sufficiency.
They also found ethnic differences in employment
Cambodians are the only group for
which ESL enrollment is the only variable
that distinguishes employed refugees from
those who are seeking employment. The
Vietnamese are the only group for which the
unemployed have a higher awareness of the
facilitating services than the employed. The
Hmong are the only group for which English
writing skills are a major predictor of
employment status, and for which home country
education is a major predictor of labor force
entry. And automobile availability is not a
significant predictor of labor force entry
for the Lao and Cambodians (1985, p. 126-
127) .

Factors Determining
Refugee Economic Self-sufficiency
Many studies show that length of time in the
United States, educational background, and household
size and composition, have a correlation with economic
self-sufficiency (Caplan et al., 1985; Aames et al.,
Length of time in the United States has been
identified as one of the significant factors
associated with the achievement of refugee economic
self-sufficiency (Caplan et al., 1985). Caplan et al.
have shown that although beginning with high rates of
welfare dependency, Southeast Asian refugees, after
three or four years, approach the same level of
poverty as U.S. minority groups. According to the
study, refugees in the United States for 44 months or
longer show poverty rates that are not significantly
different from that of blacks and Hispanics. Twenty
percent of the most recent arrivals (those families in
the United States for less than four months) have
earnings above the poverty level; at two years, 43
percent are above the poverty line; and at three
years, 57 percent are above the poverty line. After
about four years, approximately 70 percent of the
families are out of poverty.

Two different opinions are identifiable
regarding the relationship of educational backgrounds
to achievement of economic self-sufficiency. While
Caplan et al. (1985), in particular, show that
educational background by itself is of no practical
significance in promoting economic self-sufficiency,
the OSl (Opportunity Systems, Inc., 1981) study
indicates that educational background directly
contributes to the achievement of refugee economic
self-sufficiency. However, Caplan et al. (1985) did
show that educational background is strongly
correlated with English proficiency, rather than with
the achievement of economic self-sufficiency.
Several opinions regarding the relationship
between household size and the achievement of economic
self-sufficiency were identified. For Aames et al.
(1977), and Nguyen et al. (1983), smaller households
are better able to achieve economic self-sufficiency
than larger households. On the other hand, Kim and
Nicassio (1980) found that household size is hot
important in regard to the attainment of economic
Caplan et al. (1985) show that "extended
households" do better than "nuclear households," and
that "multiple households" do better than the above

two in terms of the achievement of economic self-
sufficiency. An extended household is the opposite of
a nuclear household. An extended household refers to
a family that includes grandparents, uncles, aunts,
etc., while a multiple household refers to a family in
which more than two different nuclear families live
together. In their study, 40 percent of multiple
families were found to be below the poverty line,
while 43 percent of extended families and 61 percent
of nuclear families were below the poverty line
(Caplan et al., 1985, p. 201). Caplan et al.
conclude that multiple households consist largely of
collections of potential wage earners as well as
relatively fewer dependent persons in comparison with
the extended and nuclear households. Large household
size generally means a large number of dependents.
According to Caplan et al. (1985), the
movement of women into the work force emerges as a
critical factor in the achievement of self-
sufficiency. They indicated that women's involvement
with the work force had a positive relationship with
the attainment of self-sufficiency. Women are,
however, less likely to participate in ESL classes,
job training programs and employment.

Strand and Jones (1985) showed that Southeast
Asian refugees tend to be younger, married, and more1
likely to be involved in some type of manual labor.
According to them, younger age and marriage have a
positive relationship with the achievement of self-
Effectiveness of Refugee
Economic Self-Sufficiency Programs
Refugee economic self-sufficiency programs may
be broadly categorized as those that pertain either to
English as a second language (ESL) training or
employment services. A variety of studies have been
conducted to examine the effectiveness of refugee
economic self-sufficiency programs.
A study conducted by Church World Service
(1984) indicated that in terms of the type of
employment needed, both sponsors (39 percent) and
refugees (51 percent) believe that specific vocational
training provided by state agencies have a critical
effect on the attainment of refugee economic self-
However, it seems that Caplan et al. (1985, p.
225) do not agree with the study of Church World
Service. They show that employment services that

mostly offer job referral information should not be
considered as one of the significant contributors in
helping refugees to become economically self-
sufficient. According to their study, only three
percent of refugees had found jobs through state
employment service programs. Thirty-four percent of
refugees had found their jobs through their friends
and relatives. Sixteen percent found them by
themselves; anlther sixteen percent, from voluntary
agencies; ten percent, from sponsors; six percent,
from schools; five percent, from other employment
programs; four percent, from churches; three percent,
from refugee self-help organizations; and four
percent, from other services.
Most studies (Aames et al., 1977; Caplan et
al., 1985; and Strand and Jones, 1985) in this area
show that English is a significant variable to help
refugees achieve economic self-sufficiency, but such
studies contain different opinions on ESL as a policy
variable. Broadly speaking, there are three different
opinions on English language training. First, there
is the view that English skills are strongly related
to economic self-sufficiency, and therefore, that
English language training is desirable and should
continue (Caplan et al.,

In the second view, such researchers as Peters
et al. (1983) recommend that English language training
should be required for young persons under the age of
30. Those who are over the age of 40 have difficulty
in learning English. Therefore, English language
training is not necessarily helpful for those over
the age of 40. According to Peters et al., mature
adults, especially those over the age of 45, find it
extremely difficult to learn languages other than
their native language. Therefore, they suggest that
"for a certain people, especially those over the age
of 50, it is not necessary for them to be taught
English to get a low-paying unskilled job (p. 11)."
Unlike other studies, this study goes one further
step: teaching adult refugees English is not
realistically cost-beneficial, although English is
critical for job seeking. They suggest two
alternatives: concentrate education on children and
teen-agers, and help adult refugees open small
businesses in their local communities.
In the third view, Ulilliam McManus's opinion
(1985) is slightly different from Peters et al.
According to McManus, it is obvious that an inability
to communicate in English has the potential of
lowering total earnings. However, the cost of

acquiring English fluency may be greater than the
benefits. This might be especially true for older
Findings of this chapter can be summarized
into four factors. First, both differences and
similarities existed in the four major Southeast Asian
refugee groups' cultures and traditions.
Second, philosophical views of refugee welfare
programs have not reached any agreement. However,
current regulation of refugee resettlement programs
seems to stand for collective altruism because the
Refugee Assistance Amendments of 1982 requires
refugees to participate in English and vocational
training as a condition of receiving welfare.
Third, there are various opinions on factors
determining refugee economic self-sufficiency.
Generally speaking, English proficiency, length of
time in the U.S., prior education, and household
composition were identified as factors that are
associated with the achievement of economic self-
sufficiency, although some studies do not agree with
each other.

Fourth, there are several opinions on the
effectiveness of refugee resettlement programs.
Caplan, et al . (1985) argued that the programs, in
terms of job referral services, did not work. The
Church World Service concluded in an opposite way.
The effectiveness of ESL training was more
controversial. Some (Caplan et al., 1985) found that
ESL training is closely correlated to the achievement
of economic self-sufficiency, while others (Peters et
al., 1983) found that it is not. In addition, an
author such as McManus (1985) mentioned that the cost
of learning English is higher than the benefits of
learning English.
In conclusion, on the basis of the above, the
following propositions can be offered: the
achievement of economic self-sufficiency is a function
of English proficiency upon arrival, length of ESL
training, prior education, age, gender, marital status
and type of family. In this study, these propositions
will be tested

General Method
Unlike most previous studies, this study
assumed that similarities, as well as differences, in
the pattern of gaining self-support status among four
Southeast Asian refugee groups (i.e., the Vietnamese,
the Cambodian, the Laotian and the Hmong) exist. Thi
study was designed to identify the most significant
predictors associated with the achievement of self-
sufficiency for the four groups, while examining the
similarities and differences among them. This study
addresses the significant differences that exist in
the achievement rates of self-sufficiency among the
four groups.
The propositions addressed in the previous
chapter will be tested in this study by conducting
quantitative analyses, including logit analysis and
variable analysis, while answering three questions
listed in Chapter I. These three questions are:

1. What are the most significant variables for
Southeast Asian refugees in achieving economic self-
suf f iciency?
2. Does the higher utilization level of CRISP
services lead to better chances of achieving economic
3. Which Southeast Asian refugee groups are
more effective in achieving economic self-sufficiency?
The population of interest in this study was
non-categorical refugee assistance (NCRA) recipients
among Southeast Asian refugees who arrived in Colorado
in 1984. However, data was collected on all Southeast
Asian refugees who arrived in 1984 to conduct a
background analysis of the population specific to this
Under the CRISP program, refugees applying
for, and receiving, cash assistance fall into one of
two categories:
1. Categorically eligible: entered date into
the U.S. less than three years before and meets
requirements of both limited income and "deprivation,"
e.g., lack parental support because of absence (aid to
families with dependent children); or advanced age
(old age pension); or disability (aid to needy
disabled, aid to the blind and/or supplemental

security income). Refugees still eligible for this
category .after three years following their entry date
are sent, in general, to social services agencies,
since they cannot be funded by ORR, nor are they a
CRISP responsibility;
2. Non-categorically eligible: entered date
less than 18 months before and meets ORR definition of
refugee (see Chapter I). While any eligible person
can receive one of the former types of cash assistance
(called categorical cash assistance), only refugees
can receive the latter type of cash assistance, called
NCRA. The two groups should be considered separately
in research, since they are two distinct groups. The
latter group, NCRA recipients, are the focus of this
An 18-month time period was used to determine
the economic self-sufficiency of the study group,
since refugees ineligible for categorical cash
assistance grants are entitled to receive NCRA for 18
months following their arrivals. The central issue of
this study is to examine the achievement of this
group's economic self-sufficiency during this 18-month
Only heads of households were considered in
this study because a CRISP data base had showed that

household income is equal to the income of heads of
households" in more than 95 percent of Southeast Asian
refugee families. This indicates that other family
members are dependent on the heads of households.
Therefore, for this group, the achievement of economic
self-sufficiency is up to the heads of the families.
Some refugees achieve economic self-
sufficiency within 18 months. Others are dropped from
cash assistance programs due to lack of cooperation,
leaving Colorado, voluntary withdrawal, etc. In this
study, the status of refugees in regard to economic
self-sufficiency, was separated into two groups: the
economically self-sufficient and others, with emphasis
on the self-sufficient.
The achievement of refugee economic self-
sufficiency within 18 months refers to any time within
the 18-month period rather than at a date 18 months
following their arrival. Therefore, any refugee who
achieved economic self-sufficiency any time within 18
months was considered as the economically self-
Quantitative research was conducted with NCRA
recipients, including the economically self-sufficient
and those who did not achieved self-sufficiency.

Quantitative techniques employed in this study were,
logit analysis, chi square test, analysis of variance
(ANOVA), and variable analysis. Logit analysis was
employed to assess the most significant variables
associated with the achievement of economic self-
sufficiency. The chi square test was employed to
determine the significance of the relationship between
independent variables as a group and the dependent
variable, achievement of economic self-sufficiency.
Variable analysis was utilized to examine correlations
between the dependent variable of the achievement of
economic self-sufficiency and individual independent
variables listed in Table 4.3.
In this study, four major Southeast Asian
refugee groups Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian and
Hmong were considered as the overall target
population. Southeast Asian refugees began arriving
in the United States just after the cease-fire of the
Indochina War. Since, as a whole, this group
demonstrates strong family unity and tries to keep the
family unit together as much as passible, they may
share commonalties in the pattern of their achievement
of economic self-sufficiency. However, the four
groups have different cultural backgrounds that may

lead to the formation of different patterns of life
and different types of economic self-sufficiency.
As a result of the differences and
similarities in culture and philosophy of the four
Southeast Asian refugees, these groups were considered
separately, and then the similarities and differences
in the achievement pattern of economic self-
sufficiency were examined.
Specific Procedures
Background Analysis of the Southeast
Asian refugees Arriving in 1984
A background analysis of all Southeast Asian
refugees arriving in America in 1984 was conducted for
the four groups, both as a group and separately, to
examine the population proportion of these groups to
the total population of Southeast Asian refugee
arrivals in 1984. The analysis also focused on the
types of cash assistance received by the four
respective groups, the proportion of NCRA recipients
to all types of cash assistance, and the proportion of
employment-related service to cash assistance

Characteristics of the Target Population
The target population of this study was NCRA
recipients who are Southeast Asian refugees, who are
heads of families, arriving in this country in 1984.
Characteristics of the target population were examined
prior to further analysis in terms of the nine factors
listed in Table 4.1. These factors were identified by
reviewing the related literatures discussed in the
previous chapter, as well as CRISP annual reports
regarding refugee economic self-sufficiency.
This analysis was conducted to figure out
broad pictures of the four Southeast Asian refugee
groups, and to examine similarities and differences in
characteristics among the four groups. The latter
task is especially critical, since differences in
characteristics may lead to differences in the
achievement pattern of economic self-sufficiency.
The CRISP program in Colorado is 100 percent
federally-funded by the U.S. Office of Refugee
Resettlement, under authority of the Refugee Act of
1980 (P.L. 96-212), as amended, and the State
Legalization Impact Assistance Brant authorized by the
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (P.L. 99-
603). CRISP provides cash assistance, medical

assistance, and self-sufficiency services, such as ESL
training and case management and employment services.
ESL training is provided through contract with the
Colorado Department of Education. Case management and
employment services are provided by the bilingual
professional staff directly employed by the Department
of Social Services. Services include vocational
counseling, job placement, job development, needs
assessment, job information, referral, and counseling.
Table 4.1 Variables Used for Characteristics of the
Target Population
Name of Variables : Numerical values
English Proficiency: None = 1, Poor = 2, Fair = 3,
at Arrival : Good = 4, and Excellent = 5
Length in ESL class: Months in ESL Class
Years of Education : Years of education
Age : Arrival Age
Sex : Male = 1, and Female = 0
Marital Status : Single = 0, and Married = 1
Types of : Single person houshold, Nuclear,
Family : and Extended housholds
Length of time on Welfare (months)
Ethnicity : Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian
: and Hmong
The level of English proficiency upon arrival
is self-evaluation judged by individual refugees
themselves. All refugees have to write down their
level of English proficiency in their entry visa into
the United States. When this self-evaluation is used,

every refugee's level of English proficiency can be
employed. CRISP evaluates refugees' level of English
proficiency only if they take ESL classes. CRISP does
not have any information about English proficiency of
those who do not take ESL classes with CRISP.
Therefore, the self-evaluation was used in this study.
It might probably be said that their self-
evaluation is not always accurate; however, refugees'
self-evaluation in this study was reliable. As can be
seen in Table 4.2, those who wrote down relatively
lower level of English proficiency showed relatively
lower level of English skills in the CRISP's
evaluation. This result was statistically significant
at the 0.01 level of significance (see Table 4.2).
Table 4.2 Means Table of English
Proficiency: CRISP's
Evaluation and Self-
Self- Evaluation : CRISP rEvaluation : (Means) Number of Cases
None (1) # : 0.1429 14
Poor (2) : 1.3415 82
Fair (3) : 1.8750 24
Good (4) : 2.6667 6
Excellent (5) J 0
* "None" refers to non-English speaking,
df = 3 and 122, F value = 24.4587

Far convenience, year of birth was used
instead of actual age, and converted to actual age for
interpretation. For this study, a single person
household refers to any family composed of one adult
only. A nuclear family refers to any family composed
of parent(s) and child(ren). An extended family
refers to any family with the combination of the two
types of family listed above. Length of time on
welfare is counted by number of months.
"Means" were used to examine the
characteristics of the population. ANOVA was employed
to conducted a significant test. The four ethnic
groups were separately examined to identify
differences and similarities in their characteristics.
The Most Significant Variables Associated with
the Achievement of Economic Self-Sufficiency
The most significant variables associated with
the achievement of economic self-sufficiency were
examined in regard to the 18-month time period by
using logit analysis. The dependent variable of the
achievement of economic self-sufficiency is
dichotomous. Therefore, the achievement of this goal
is valued at one and zero is assigned for others.
Broadly speaking, either one of two statistical
techniques a model of dummy variables and logit

models can be utilized in the analysis of this
qualitative dependent variable. The strength of this
dummy variable in multiple regression analysis is that
partial contributions of the presence or absence of a
quality or an attribute can be applied and tested.
The weakness of this dummy variable is that regression
requires the assumption that for each value of the
predictor variable, scores on the the dependent
variable be normally distributed with equal variances.
It has been known logit models are more appropriate
technique for the qualitative dependent variable than
dummy variable. In logit models, explanatory
variables can be calculated through the transformation
of dummy variables in order to resolve binary problems
of dummy variable. In addition, dummy variables
assume linear probability regression, while the latter
assumes a snakelike pattern that can be better fit for
qualitative dependent variable (Haberman, 1978, pp.
292-353; Intri1igatar, 1978, pp. 173-176; and Lewis-
Beck, 1986, pp. 66-71). Therefore, in this study,
logit models rather than a model of dummy variables
were used.
Independent variables are those factors listed
in Table 4.3 below. Five dummy variables were defined
in the factors: the gender variable is dichotomous,

and, therefore, a dummy variable was defined; the
marital status variable is binary, and a dummy
variable was applied; and for the variable of family
types, three dummy variables, one for each group, were
defined. Therefore, total numbers of independent
variables are nine.
Table 4.3 A List of Independent Variables Relating
to the Achievement of Economic Self-
Independent Variables
Arrival English
Time in ESL training
Years of Education
Marital Status
Type of Family (Single person household,
Nuclear family, and Extended family)
Chi square tests and t-tests were also
conducted: Chi square tests were used to determine if
there is a significant relationship between the eight
independent variables, as a group, and the dependent
variable of the achievement of economic self-
sufficiency. T-tests were employed to examine which
variables are stronger contributors to the achievement
of economic self-sufficiency.
Logit analysis, Chi square test, and t-test
were respectively conducted the four Southeast Asian

refugee groups separately for the reasons outlined
The sample size of the Southeast Asian refugee
group as a whole was large enough to be addressed
adequately (n=160). However, the sample of each group
was small, when the 160 cases were broken down into
four groups: the Vietnamese numbered 76; the
Cambodians totaled 43; the Laotian, 17; and the Hmong,
24. Due to small sample size, validity issues can be
raised. Therefore, the four individual groups'
multiple regression equations.should be carefully
To attain some confidence in validity,
techniques of control can be utilized to facilitate
careful interpretation. Specifically speaking,
statistical control means that statistical methods are
used to identify, isolate, or nullify variance in a
dependent variable that is presumably "caused" by one
or more independent variables which are extraneous to
the particular relation, or relations, under study.
Statistical control is particularly important when the
joint or mutual effects of more than one independent
variable on a dependent variable is the interest in an
effort to sort out and control the effects of some