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Children of Immigrants in the Labour Markets of EU and OECD Countries: An Overview

Listed author(s):
  • Thomas Liebig


  • Sarah Widmaier

This document provides a first comparative overview of the presence and outcomes of the children of immigrants in the labour markets of OECD countries, based on a collection of data from 16 OECD countries with large immigrant populations. Its key findings are the following: • In about half of all OECD countries, children of immigrants - both native-born offspring of immigrants and foreign-born who immigrated before adulthood with their parents - account for ten or more percent of young adults (aged 20-29) in the labour market. • Most children of immigrants have parents from low- and middle-income countries, and the share with parents from such countries is larger among foreign-born children than among the nativeborn offspring of immigrants. This is a result of the diversification of migration flows over the past 20 years. • Among the native-born children of immigrants in European OECD countries, Turkey is the single most important country of parental origin, followed by Morocco. When comparing the countries of parental origin for the native- and the foreign-born children of immigrants, one observes in the European OECD countries a strong decline in the importance of the origin countries of the post-World War II wave of labour migration, in particular Turkey but also Morocco, Italy, Portugal and Pakistan. • In all countries except Germany and Switzerland, a large majority of the native-born children of immigrants have obtained the nationality of their countries of residence. • The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has demonstrated lower assessment results for the children of immigrants in most European OECD countries. There are close links between PISA outcomes and educational attainment levels. In the countries in which children of migrants have large gaps in PISA-scores vis-à-vis children of natives, children of immigrants are also strongly overrepresented among those who are low-educated. • One observes a clear difference between the non-European OECD countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) on the one hand and European OECD countries on the other hand. In the former, the children of migrants have education and labour market outcomes that tend to be at least at par with those of the children of natives. In the European OECD countries (with the exception of Switzerland), both education and labour market outcomes of the children of immigrants tend to be much less favourable. • Part of the differences in labour market outcomes observed in most European OECD countries is due to the fact that the children of immigrants tend to have a lower educational attainment than the children of natives. However, significant gaps remain in many of these countries even after correcting for differences in average educational attainment. • The remaining gaps are particularly large for the offspring of migrants from Turkey and from certain non-OECD countries such as Morocco. In all countries, children with parents from middle-and low-income countries have lower outcomes than children of immigrants from highincome countries. The differences are particularly large for young immigrant women. • On average over the OECD countries for which data are available, the children of immigrants have an unemployment rate that is about 1.6 times higher than that of the children of natives, for both genders. The children of immigrants also have lower employment rates – the gaps compared with the children of natives are about 8 percentage points for men and about 13 percentage points for women. • For women, one observes much better results for the native children of immigrants than for young immigrants, suggesting that having been fully raised and educated in the country of residence brings some additional benefit. However, this is not observed for men, where the native-born children of immigrants do not seem to fare better than the young immigrants, particularly after accounting for the lower educational attainment of the latter group. • The less favourable picture for the female children of migrants compared with their male counterparts is less clear-cut after controlling for socio-demographic characteristics, in particular marital status and number of children. Part of the “double disadvantage” for the female offspring of immigrants seems to be due to the fact that in the age range under consideration (20-29 years), they are overrepresented among those who are (already) married and have children. Indeed, once controlling for this, native-born women who have parents from the Maghreb region or Southern Europe, as well those with Turkish parental origin, tend to have higher employment rates - relative to comparable natives - than their male counterparts. • When in employment, children of immigrants are in occupations similar to those of the children of natives. They are also widely spread throughout the economy, but tend to remain underrepresented in the public sector. Les principales conclusions qui s’en dégagent sont résumées ci-dessous. • Dans la moitié environ de l’ensemble des pays de l’OCDE, les enfants d’immigrés (aussi bien ceux nés dans le pays hôte de parents immigrés que ceux nés à l’étranger et qui ont immigré avec leurs parents avant d’avoir atteint l’âge adulte) représentent au moins dix pour cent des jeunes adultes (jeunes âgés de 20 à 29 ans) présents sur le marché du travail. • Les parents des enfants immigrés sont le plus souvent originaires de pays à revenu faible ou intermédiaire, et la proportion d’enfants dont les parents sont dans ce cas est plus forte parmi ceux qui sont nés à l’étranger que parmi les enfants nés dans le pays hôte. • Parmi les enfants nés dans un pays européen de l’OCDE de parents immigrés, ceux dont les parents sont originaires de Turquie sont les plus nombreux, suivis des enfants d’origine marocaine. Quand on compare les pays d’origine des parents immigrés d’enfants nés dans le pays hôte et d’enfants nés à l’étranger, on observe, dans les pays européens de l’OCDE, un fort recul de l’importance des pays d’origine correspondant à la vague de migration de travail de l’après- Deuxième Guerre mondiale. Cette observation concerne notamment la Turquie, mais aussi le Maroc, l’Italie, le Portugal et le Pakistan. • Dans tous les pays hormis l’Allemagne et la Suisse, une grande majorité des enfants nés sur le territoire de parents immigrés ont obtenu la nationalité de leur pays de résidence. • Le Programme international de l’OCDE pour le suivi des acquis des élèves (PISA) a démontré que, dans la plupart des pays européens de l’Organisation, les enfants d’immigrés obtenaient de piètres résultats lors des évaluations. Il existe un lien étroit entre les acquis scolaires mesurés par PISA et les niveaux d’études atteints. Dans les pays où l’on relève d’importantes disparités entre les enfants d’immigrés et les enfants de parents autochtones du point de vue des notes obtenues lors des tests PISA, les premiers sont aussi fortement surreprésentés parmi les personnes peu instruites. • On relève une nette différence entre les pays non européens de l’OCDE (Australie, Canada, États-Unis et Nouvelle-Zélande), d’une part, et les pays européens de l’Organisation, d’autre part. Dans le premier groupe, les enfants d’immigrés affichent généralement, au regard de l’éducation et de l’emploi, des résultats au moins égaux à ceux des enfants de parents autochtones. Mais dans les pays européens de l’OCDE (à l’exception de la Suisse), les résultats des enfants d’immigrés au regard de l’éducation et de l’emploi sont généralement moins bons.

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers with number 97.

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Date of creation: 29 Oct 2009
Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:97-en
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