The Labour Market Integration of Skilled Migrants in International Comparison


Our proposed research project focuses on migrants’ hiring chances and consequences for their labour market success across countries with different labour market settings. We argue that labour market features in the host country shape employers’ hiring decisions and thus influence migrants’ chances for economic integration. Our objective is to answer the following research questions: a) Do migrants’ hiring chances upon arrival vary across different labour market settings? and b) Will firms allow for upward mobility of migrants in these settings?
Our research approach is to directly compare the likelihood that firms will hire migrants in different countries. Through this comparison, we can test whether employers reward individual endowments differently depending on national labour market features, such as the type of school-to-work linkages and vocational training systems as well as the degree of employment regulation. Because these features influence employers’ hiring behaviour, we expect that migrants with comparable characteristics will have different opportunities in different countries.
Our empirical strategy is twofold: First, we will employ an experimental factorial survey design to simulate a hiring process and study firms’ evaluation of foreign-trained migrants. With this method we can vary experimentally the foreign education and training along with other individual traits of the applicants. By carrying out harmonized experimental surveys in six different countries we will be able to compare the effects of these individual traits in different institutional settings. Second, to provide a more comprehensive picture of migrants’ economic incorporation across national labour markets, we will analyse available large-scale survey data. We intend to use data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). With data from this worldwide survey we can analyse and compare migrants’ labour market adjustment rate and realized occupational status in different countries, net of individual skills.
Our research will contribute to the literature on the labour market integration of migrants in several ways: First, we gain a better understanding of the role of firms and second, we shed light on the role of labour market institutions. The results will provide valuable insights and recommendations for policy makers how national institutional arrangements can be shaped to enhance the labour market integration of migrants.

Principal Investigators

Prof. Dr. Martin Abraham (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
Dr. Andreas Damelang (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

Associated Junior Researchers

Sabine Ebensperger (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
Felix Stumpf (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)