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Improving the Labour Market Integration of Immigrants in Belgium

Author

Listed:
  • Álvaro Pina

    (OECD)

  • Vincent Corluy
  • Gerlinde Verbist

Abstract

Immigrants make up one fifth of the Belgian working age population, but their labour market integration is poor. Employment rates of non-EU immigrants, in particular, are very low, and the problem extends to their native-born offspring. Further, with more precarious jobs and lower wages, immigrants are heavily exposed to poverty. This is explained by low educational attainment and correspondingly high vulnerability to disincentives to work and relatively high minimum wages, but also by more diffuse handicaps, like discrimination and imperfect knowledge of the languages of Belgium. Improving the labour market performance of immigrants requires a two-fold strategy. First, policies specific to migrants need to be enhanced. To improve job matching, immigrants need more support to develop and validate their human capital, and employers, both public and private, need stronger incentives to hire a more diverse workforce. Second, general reforms to improve the functioning of the economy, desirable in any case, could also have a significant positive impact on immigrants. There is vast scope to reduce labour costs and increase work incentives for low-skilled workers. Also, the education system needs to become more equitable and responsive to the needs of the children of immigrants. This Working Paper relates to the 2015 OECD Economic Survey of Belgium (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-belgium.htm) Améliorer l'insertion des immigrés sur le marché du travail en Belgique Si les personnes immigrées représentent un cinquième de la population en âge de travailler de la Belgique, leur intégration au marché du travail reste faible. En particulier, le taux d’emploi des ressortissants de pays extérieurs à l’UE est très bas, de même que celui de leurs enfants nés en Belgique. Par ailleurs, les immigrés sont très exposés au risque de pauvreté dans la mesure où les emplois qu’ils occupent sont plus précaires et moins bien rémunérés. Ce phénomène s’explique par leur faible niveau de scolarité, et en conséquence une forte sensibilité aux facteurs dissuasifs pour le travail et à des salaires minimums relativement élevés, mais aussi par des handicaps répandus et ancrés tel que la discrimination et la maîtrise insuffisante des langues nationales de la Belgique. Une stratégie en deux volets est indispensable pour améliorer la situation des immigrés sur le marché du travail. D’une part, il convient d’optimiser les mesures ciblées sur les immigrés. Pour améliorer l’appariement de l’offre et de la demande d’emplois, les immigrés doivent être mieux accompagnés pour développer et faire valider leur capital humain, tandis que les employeurs, dans le secteur public comme dans le secteur privé, doivent être davantage incités à diversifier leurs effectifs. D’autre part, des réformes générales visant à améliorer le fonctionnement de l’économie, au demeurant bienvenues en tant que telles, pourraient aussi avoir des retombées positives significatives sur les immigrés. Des marges importantes existent pour réduire les coûts de main-d’oeuvre et accroître les incitations au travail pour les travailleurs peu qualifiés. Il faut aussi renforcer l’équité dans le système éducatif, qui doit mieux répondre aux besoins des enfants d’immigrés. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l’Étude économique de l’OCDE de la Belgique, 2015 (www.oecd.org/fr/eco/etudes/etude-economique-belgique.htm)

Suggested Citation

  • Álvaro Pina & Vincent Corluy & Gerlinde Verbist, 2015. "Improving the Labour Market Integration of Immigrants in Belgium," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1195, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1195-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5js4hmbt6v5h-en
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1787/5js4hmbt6v5h-en
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Belgique; Belgium; choix des établissements scolaires; coin fiscal sur le travail; early tracking; enseignement professionnel; equity in education; immigrants; immigrés; integration policies; labour tax wedge; minimum wage; orientation précoce; politiques d'intégration; salaire minimum; school choice; vocational education; équité dans l’éducation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J32 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Nonwage Labor Costs and Benefits; Retirement Plans; Private Pensions
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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