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Social Contacts and the Economic Performance of Immigrants: A Panel Study of Immigrants in Germany


  • Kanas, Agnieszka

    () (Utrecht University)

  • Chiswick, Barry R.

    () (George Washington University)

  • van der Lippe, Tanja

    () (Utrecht University)

  • van Tubergen, Frank

    () (Utrecht University)


Using data from the German Socio-Economic Panel, we examined the impact of social contacts on immigrant occupational status and income. In addition to general social contacts, we also analyzed the effects of bonding (i.e., co-ethnic) and bridging (i.e., interethnic) ties on economic outcomes. Results show that general social contacts have a positive effect on the occupational status and, in particular, annual income of immigrants. We also find that bridging ties with Germans lead to higher occupational status, but not to increased income. These effects remain visible even when social contacts are measured (at least) one year prior to the economic outcomes, as well as when earlier investments in German human capital are considered. Finally, we show that co-ethnic concentration in the region of residence weakly affects economic returns to German language proficiency and schooling.

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  • Kanas, Agnieszka & Chiswick, Barry R. & van der Lippe, Tanja & van Tubergen, Frank, 2011. "Social Contacts and the Economic Performance of Immigrants: A Panel Study of Immigrants in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 5775, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5775

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Kusum Mundra, 2007. "Social networks and their impact on the earnings of Mexican Migrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 44(4), pages 849-863, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ludovica Gambaro & Guido Neidhöfer & C. Katharina Spieß, 2019. "The Effect of Early Childhood Education and Care Services on the Social Integration of Refugee Families," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1828, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    2. Bruno Arpino & Helga Valk, 2018. "Comparing Life Satisfaction of Immigrants and Natives Across Europe: The Role of Social Contacts," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 137(3), pages 1163-1184, June.
    3. Ingwersen, Kai & Thomsen, Stephan L, 2019. "The Immigrant-Native Wage Gap in Germany Revisited," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-653, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    4. Ayumi Takenaka & Makiko Nakamuro & Kenji Ishida, 2016. "Negative Assimilation: How Immigrants Experience Economic Mobility in Japan," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 506-533, June.
    5. Simone Cremaschi & Carlo Devillanova, 2016. "Immigrants and Legal Status: Do Personal Contacts Matter?," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1629, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    6. TAKENAKA Ayumi & ISHIDA Kenji & NAKAMURO Makiko, 2012. "Negative Assimilation: How Immigrants Experience Economic Mobility in Japan," ESRI Discussion paper series 293, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    7. Eleni Kalfa & Matloob Piracha, 2018. "Social networks and the labour market mismatch," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 31(3), pages 877-914, July.
    8. Lieselotte Blommaert & Marcel Coenders & Frank Tubergen, 2014. "Ethnic Discrimination in Recruitment and Decision Makers’ Features: Evidence from Laboratory Experiment and Survey Data using a Student Sample," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 116(3), pages 731-754, May.
    9. Elena Vidal-Coso & Pau Miret-Gamundi, 2014. "The labour trajectories of immigrant women in Spain: Are there signs of upward social mobility?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 31(13), pages 337-380.
    10. Bonin, Holger & Rinne, Ulf, 2017. "Machbarkeitsstudie zur Durchführung einer Evaluation der arbeitsmarktpolitischen Integrationsmaßnahmen für Flüchtlinge," IZA Research Reports 76, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Chiswick, Barry R. & Wang, Zhiling, 2016. "Social Contacts, Dutch Language Proficiency and Immigrant Economic Performance in the Netherlands: A Longitudinal Study," IZA Discussion Papers 9760, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    12. Scheller, Friedrich, 2017. "The ambiguous role of ethnic context: A multi-level analysis of the relationship between group size and labor market integration of three immigrant groups in Germany," Duisburger Beiträge zur soziologischen Forschung 2017-03, University of Duisburg-Essen, Institute of Sociology.
    13. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2014. "International Migration and the Economics of Language," IZA Discussion Papers 7880, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Choon-Lee Chai & Kayla Ueland & Tabitha Phiri, 2018. "The Use of Human Capital and Limitations of Social Capital in Advancing Economic Security among Immigrant Women Living in Central Alberta, Canada," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(11), pages 1-25, November.
    15. Chiswick, Barry R. & Wang, Zhiling, 2019. "Social Contacts, Dutch Language Proficiency and Immigrant Economic Performance in the Netherlands," GLO Discussion Paper Series 419, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    16. Zhiling Wang, 2020. "The incompatibility of local economic prosperity and migrants’ social integration: evidence from the Netherlands," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 64(1), pages 57-78, February.
    17. Martin Lange & Friedhelm Pfeiffer & Gerard J. den Berg, 2017. "Integrating young male refugees: initial evidence from an inclusive soccer project," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 51(1), pages 1-10, December.
    18. Judith Koops & Borja Martinovic & Jeroen Weesie, 2017. "Are Inter-Minority Contacts Guided by the Same Mechanisms as Minority–Majority Contacts? A Comparative Study of Two Types of Inter-Ethnic Ties in the Netherlands," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 51(3), pages 701-726, September.

    More about this item


    social contacts; occupational status; income; panel data; immigrants;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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