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How did Immigrants fare in the Irish Labour Market over the Great Recession?


  • Elish Kelly

    (Economic and Social Research Institute)

  • Seamus McGuinness

    (Economic and Social Research Institute)

  • Philip O’Connell

    (University College, Dublin)

  • Alberto González Pandiella


  • David Haugh



This paper identifies the labour market impact of the Great Recession on immigrants compared to natives and how this relationship has evolved since the downturn. We find that the employment penalty suffered by immigrant workers, relative to native workers, increased significantly over the Irish recession and persisted during the subsequent recovery. Differences in labour market outcomes between immigrants and natives were accentuated by the recession, when the employment penalty was the highest. Secondly we conclude that the more recent evolution of the employment penalty appears to be related to a composition effect, as many refugee immigrants with weak labour market attachment became naturalised citizens during the recession. This suggests that the difficulties that some immigrants experience in the labour market would be under-estimated without taking due account of naturalisation processes, as is done in this paper for the first time in Ireland. This working paper relates to the 2015 OECD Economic Survey of Ireland ( Comment les immigrants réussissent dans le marché du travail irlandais sur la Grande Récession ? Ce document identifie l'impact sur le marché du travail de la grande récession sur les immigrants par rapport aux autochtones et comment cette relation a évolué depuis la récession. Nous constatons que la pénalisation de l'emploi subie par les travailleurs immigrés, par rapport aux travailleurs indigènes, a considérablement augmenté au cours de la récession irlandaise et a persisté pendant la récupération ultérieure. Les différences de performance dans le marché du travail entre les immigrants et les autochtones ont été accentuées par la récession, lorsque la pénalisation de l'emploi était au plus haut. Deuxièmement, nous concluons que l'évolution récente de la pénalisation de l'emploi semble être liée à un effet de composition car de nombreux immigrants réfugiés faiblement attachés au marché du travail ont été naturalisés Irlandais pendant la récession. Cela laisse à penser que les difficultés rencontrées par certains immigrés sur le marché du travail seraient sous-estimées si le processus de naturalisation n’était pas pris en compte. Ce document prend en compte cet effet de composition pour la première fois en Irlande. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l’Étude économique de l’OCDE de l'Irlande 2015 (

Suggested Citation

  • Elish Kelly & Seamus McGuinness & Philip O’Connell & Alberto González Pandiella & David Haugh, 2016. "How did Immigrants fare in the Irish Labour Market over the Great Recession?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1284, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1284-en

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Izquierdo, Mario & Lacuesta, Aitor & Vegas, Raquel, 2009. "Assimilation of immigrants in Spain: A longitudinal analysis," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 669-678, December.
    2. Elish Kelly & Seamus McGuinness & Philip J O’connell & David Haugh & Alberto GonzÁlez Pandiella, 2014. "Transitions In and Out of Unemployment among Young People in the Irish Recession," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 56(4), pages 616-634, December.
    3. Barrett, Alan & Bergin, Adele & Kelly, Elish & McGuinness, Seamus, 2014. "Ireland's Recession and the Immigrant/Native Earnings Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 8459, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Barrett, Alan & McGinnitty, Frances & Quinn, Emma (ed.), 2017. "Monitoring Report on Integration 2016," Research Series, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number BKMNEXT330.

    More about this item


    Grande récession; Great recession; immigration; immigration; Ireland; Irlande; labour market; marchés du travail; Naturalisation; Naturalisation; Refugees; Réfugiés;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search

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