The labour market positioning of the European second generation: vertical and horizontal integration issues

Laurence Lessard-Phillips, University of Manchester
Liesbeth Heering, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI)

An important issue in studying immigrant integration via the outcomes of the children of immigrants born in the receiving society, the second generation, relates to the type of benchmark, if any, that should be used in order to measure integration. Whilst some focus on inter-generational progress by focusing on the difference in outcomes between immigrants and their children, vertical integration, others prefer to use a benchmark within the same cohort as the second generation, such as the host country-born children of non-immigrants, the ‘comparison group’ (or, in some cases, the host country-born children of the already established second generation, the ‘third generation’), horizontal integration. Yet, the choice of group as a benchmark for integration, which can be driven by different theoretical motivations, yields quite different results. This paper will attempt to explore this issue of benchmarking by looking at both vertical and horizontal integration with data that allows studying both outcomes at once, The Integration of the European Second Generation data. The analyses in this paper firstly looks at inter-generational occupational mobility between the survey’s respondents and their parents, assessing whether second generation ‘progress’ is either an immigrant generation effect or simply a cohort effect. It shows that a mixture of the two is definitely present, in line with previous research. It then examines the occupational mobility of the second generation in relation to that of the comparison group, in order to have a better idea of occupational mobility within a specific cohort, and shows that the second generation appears to be lagging behind. Hence, the use of benchmark is an important issue that has the potential to influence the type of conclusions one can make with regard to integration. Comparing and contrasting vertical and horizontal integration is important in order to see the integration process has a multifaceted one.

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Presented in Session 78: The labour market position of the second generation