Ethnicity and labour market performance among recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel

Yitchak Haberfeld*, Moshe Semyonov, Yinon Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The study is designed to examine the effect of ethnic origin on the economic performance of immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the Israeli labour market, as measured by (1) labour-force participation; (2) occupational mobility; and (3) earnings. We differentiate between two distinct groups of immigrants: those who came from Asia and those who came from European republics of the former Soviet Union. All immigrants arrived in Israel during the last quarter of 1990. Data on these immigrants were obtained from a longitudinal special survey conducted by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics in 1992, 1993, and 1994. The results show that gender and ethnicity are major determinants of immigrants'assimilation into the Israeli labour market. The effect of ethnic origin is evident in all measures of economic performance among women, and in earnings among men. Other things being equal, Asian women are less likely than European women to participate in the labour force, to work in high-status occupations, and to earn as much as European women do. Asian men earn less than equally qualified European men. These findings are discussed in light of theoretical models of immigrants' assimilation and ethnic-based stratification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-299
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Sociological Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


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