Determinants of participation in ethnic occupational niches in the Spanish labour market

Mikolaj Stanek, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
Alberto Veira, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Lorenzo Cachón, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

The distribution of immigrants in the labour markets tends to be quite different from that of the native populations. In some extreme cases, the concentration of immigrants of a certain origin in given occupational or professional activities becomes unusually high, and researchers refer to those activities as ethnic occupational niches. Our paper presents results based on recently released data from a sub-sample of 6.248 immigrants drawn from the Spanish National Survey of Immigrants (ENI-2007) coming from five different countries: Argentina, Ecuador, France, Morocco and Romania. Our study is aimed to assessing the relative impact of a series of variables on the likelihood that immigrants will find a job in one of the previously identified ethnic occupational niches, namely, as waiters or cookers, construction workers, domestic staff or as agricultural labourers. We contrasted hypotheses based on three main paradigms: human capital, social capital and the labour market segmentation theory. Our results indicate that education, legal status, contacts in Spain at the moment of arrival and previous employment experience are important factors determining the entrance of immigrants into an ethnic occupational niche. We have also found that the mechanisms conditioning the insertion of immigrants in the Spanish labour market are significantly different for men and women. Finally, the results of our study suggest that not all occupational niches have the same level of “desirability” among immigrants, being working as agricultural labourer the less attractive one.

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Presented in Session 23: Labour market participation of international migrants