The Spanish labour market, from boom to recession: are foreign workers more excluded or better adapted?

Fernando Gil-Alonso, Universitat de Barcelona

From the early 21st century to the upsurge of current global crisis, foreign population living in Spain significantly increased. As Spanish workforce had also been growing, particularly female one, we would not be before a case of “replacement migration”. This “migration boom” was partly due to the educational, labour and social promotion of the autochthonous workforce -particularly female one. In turn, this upwards mobility attracted foreign workers who, in a segmented or dual labour market, filled the vacant jobs which national workers did not want, or were no longer able, to cover. Even though this situation was not new, the Spanish case is particularly interesting due to its speed and numbers involved. In a context of female education level improvement, these trends would be partly related to the increasing local female labour market participation and the extension of two salary households. As household reproductive tasks (including child and elderly care and housework) are still unequally distributed by sex and the Spanish welfare system is weak, they have been externalised into the market and internationalised. Thus, the arrival of foreign immigrants and the autochthonous population educational, labour and social promotion are “complementary” processes –but clearly uneven as foreigners mainly find jobs in sectors requiring a low skilled workforce. The paper’s aim is firstly to analyse foreigners and Spaniards’ labour market during the economic growth phase (2000-2007), focusing on the differences between them by activity sectors. In a second stage (2008-2015), the impact of the current economic crisis on both populations’ labour patterns is analysed to check if foreigners have been more affected by crisis than national workers, or in other words, if they have been more excluded than Spaniards from the labour market or if they have adapted better to the crisis.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 83: Migrants on the labour market