Labor force participation, unemployment and occupational attainment among immigrants in West European countries

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The present paper examines modes of immigrants' labor market incorporation into European societies with specific emphasis on the role played by immigrant status (i.e. first-generation immigrants, immigrant descendants and native born without migrant background), region of origin, and gender. The data were obtained from the European Union Labour Forces Survey 2008 Ad-Hoc Module for France, Belgium, UK and Sweden. In order to supplement the results from the country-specific analysis, we replicated the analysis using pooled data from the five rounds of the European Social Survey conducted between 2002 and 2010, for nine 'old immigration' Western European countries together. The analysis centered on two aspects of incorporation: labor force status and occupation. Multinominal, binary logistic as well as linear probability regression models were estimated. The findings suggest that in all countries non-European origin is associated with greater disadvantage in finding employment not only among first-generation immigrants, but also among sons and daughters of immigrants (i.e. second-generation). Moreover, the relative employment disadvantage among immigrant men of non-European origin is especially pronounced in the second-generation. The likelihood of attaining a high-status job is influenced mostly by immigrant status, regardless of region of origin and gender. The results of the study reveal that patterns of labor force incorporation vary considerably across origin groups and across generations. The patterns do not vary as much across countries, despite cross-country differences in welfare state regimes, migration integration policy and composition of migration flows.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0176856
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017


FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme321730


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