New faces at the workplace: patterns of ethnic inequality of newcomers on the German labour market

Lenore Sauer, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)
Matthias Eisenmenger, Federal Statistical Office, Germany
Andreas Ette, Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB)
Steffen Klink, Federal Statistical Office, Germany

Over the past years, Germany has seen increasing numbers of immigrants from increasingly heterogeneous countries of origin and diverse socio-economic backgrounds, a stratification of legal statuses as well as varying motives of migration. Considering the reality of demographic change in Germany, these new forms of international migration are being discussed as an essential political strategy regarding labour force potential. Despite this new demographic interest, the knowledge about the different patterns of labour market performance of new arrivals is still fragmentary. On the basis of several indicators of labour market integration our paper aims at addressing this research gap and at shedding light on the question how new immigrants who have arrived in Germany since the year 2000 fare on the labour market. By examining data from the household survey of Germany’s 2011 census, it is shown that the most recent immigrants’ access to employment is worse than that of comparable Germans and that large differences exist between various groups of newcomers. These differences can only be partly explained by different levels of human capital. Rather, they must be interpreted as some kind of ethnic inequality. This paper also shows that a more or less favourable employment situation is not necessarily related to an adequate occupational standing. For example, in comparison to other immigrant groups, EU10 men and women have better access to the labour market, but a lower occupational standing, which does not translate into a large proportion of individuals working in highly complex activities. In contrast, men and women from EU15 and from OECD-countries outside Europe show a lower rate of employment, but work within occupations with a higher level of professional requirements. Possible explanations discussed include human capital endowments and market structures, which prevent an optimal allocation of human resources to jobs.

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Presented in Session 113: Migration and labor market integration