Migration Working Group on ‘The Immigrant Experience, Discrimination and Occupational Mobility’

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from: 11:00
to: 12:30

The Migration Working Group will host the following presentations on the theme of ‘The Immigrant Experience, Discrimination and Occupational Mobility’:

‘The effect of changing sector on the occupational mobility of immigrants’ by Julie Fournier, PhD Researcher (EUI-SPS)

The literature on immigrants’ occupational mobility unanimously agrees that immigrants tend to experience downward mobility when entering the labour market of a new country. One of the main explanations put forward by the classical theory of assimilation is the less-than-perfect international transferability of human capital. Yet, previous studies have ignored that human capital is also imperfectly transferable from one activity sector to another. I examine to what extent and in which ways sectoral mobility is related to immigrants’ occupational mobility using the French Longitudinal Survey of First-Time Arrivals. The descriptive and multivariate analyses show that immigrants who change sectors are much more likely to experience mobility, both downward and upward. This is coherent with an explanation in terms of human capital specific to the premigration sector as far as downward mobility is concerned, less in the case of upward mobility.

‘Why (some) immigrants resist assimilation: US racism and the African immigrant experience’ by Dr. Amanda Lea Robinson, Visiting Fellow (EUI-SPS), Associate Professor (Ohio State University) (with Dr. Claire L. Adida, Associate Professor, UC San Diego)

Scholarship shows that Black immigrants to the US resist assimilation to reduce exposure to racial discrimination faced by native-born African Americans. But not all Black immigrants are equally likely to be perceived as African American. We argue that immigrants who are likely to be misidentified as African American have incentives to reify ethnic boundaries as a form of protection against racism. We develop this argument from interviews and focus groups with African immigrants. We then use a lab experiment to measure rates of miscategorization and identify its correlates among African immigrants. Finally, we test our argument with a unique survey of Somalis, an immigrant population with two ethnic subgroups who differ in their likelihood of being miscategorized as African Americans. We show that this difference shapes the degree of resistance to assimilation. These findings improve our understanding of the relationship between racial discrimination and incentives for Black immigrants to resist assimilation.

Claudia Brunori (PhD Researcher, EUI-SPS)
Alessandro Ferrara (PhD Researcher, EUI-SPS)

Lukas Schmid (PhD Researcher, EUI-SPS)