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Migration Policies and Migrant Employment Outcomes

Conceptual Analysis and Comparative Evidence for Europe


While a number of studies explored the demographic and human capital attributes affecting migrant socio-economic assimilation, less is known about the role of immigration status on entry. In particular, little evidence exists on the employment outcomes of migrants admitted outside economic immigration channels (family, study, asylum or permit-free) and joining the labour market once in the country of destination. This paper addresses this knowledge gap. Its conceptual framework for understanding how immigration status on arrival influences access to the labour market highlights the role of selectivity mechanisms and of different rights and constraints characterizing the legal situation of migrants who enter via different admission routes. The empirical analysis builds on original estimates of the migrant workforce by immigration status on entry based on the 2008 Ad-Hoc Module of the EU Labour Force Survey. Logistic regressions show that immigration status on arrival affects the participation in the labour market, the probability of being unemployed and the access to a job commensurate to the migrant skills. While the participation of family migrants and refugees in the labour market is positively associated with their length of stay, these categories retain a significant unemployment disadvantage in almost all European destinations. This gap becomes particularly evident at the intersection of immigration status and gender. Results suggest the need for a more holistic approach to the governance of labour migration that takes into account the long-term trends of migrant labour supply.


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Correspondence to Alessio Cangiano.

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Cangiano, A. Migration Policies and Migrant Employment Outcomes. CMS 2, 417–443 (2014).

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  • migration
  • migrant employment
  • migration policies
  • immigration status
  • Europe