The role of discrimination in immigrant unemployment

Population and Societies

546, July-August 2017

In France, immigrants and their descendants are more often unemployed than the majority population. Is this due to discrimination or are other factors, such as a lower level of education, at play? Using data from the Trajectories and Origins survey, Dominique Meurs examines the many factors influencing unemployment to assess the role of discrimination. 

Analysis of data from the Trajectories and Origins survey reveals that compared to persons born in metropolitan France to French parents, North African immigrants and their descendants have higher levels of unemployment that are not explained by their socioeconomic situation (age,
educational level, etc.). Discrimination in employment reported by respondents is consistent with the “objective” data: the more attractive, in theory, an unemployed respondent’s profile for a prospective employer, the more likely they are to report experience of discrimination on the
labour market. This finding shows that qualitative surveys on perceptions are complementary to “objective” measures of inequality, providing simple, reliable information for the study of discrimination in society.

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