Suspicious stares. Physical assaults.

Thinner wallets?

Post-9/11 anti-Islamic and anti-Middle Eastern sentiment hasn’t just taken an emotional toll on Muslim and Arab men living in the United States. It has also put a dent in their checkbooks, a study indicates.

Arab and Muslim men saw their wages and weekly earnings drop by 10 percent after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the research reveals.

The largest decreases, according to the data collected from over 4,000 men between 1997 and 2005, occurred in locations that reported higher rates of ethnic and religious-based hate crimes.

Part of the reason pay fell is that these men, mostly from predominantly Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Algeria, found fewer opportunities and had to find work in different industries that paid less than the jobs they used to be employed in after 9/11, said the study’s co-author, Robert Kaestner, a University of Illinois at Chicago economics professor.

In addition, Kaestner said, most Muslim and Arab men, possibly wary of the reception they might receive in another state, curbed their travel within the country after 9/11, which may have kept them from seeking better jobs.


Kaestner was “surprised” to find a relatively significant, immediate connection between the rising prejudice against Muslims and Arabs and their economic well-being, especially since the two groups are highly educated. (MORE)

The good news, according to Kaestner, is that the reduction in wages may be short-lived, since the most recent statistics taken in 2005 indicate a “significant rebound” in earnings for Muslim and Arab men.

The study compares wage changes of first- and second-generation immigrants from countries with large Muslim and Arab populations to wage changes from first- and second-generation immigrants with similar skills from countries such as the Philippines and China.

The Muslim and Arab men in the study range in ages from 21 to 54 and live in 20 states where 85 percent of the country’s Muslim and Arabs reside, including Illinois.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Council On American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, said the study “underscores one of the very real ways in which prejudice can hurt a community.”

“We learned from previous studies that prejudice against Arabs and Muslims have caused them to suffer both civil rights abuses and psychological harm,” he said. “Now we learn that it also bears economic ramifications.”

The study will be published in the January 2007 edition of the Journal of Human Resources.


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