The Persistence of Intergenerational Inequalities linked to Immigration: Labour Market Outcomes for Immigrants and their Descendants in France

Foreigners, Immigrants and Children of Immigrants. Historical and Sociological Aspects of Integration and Employment
By Dominique Meurs, Ariane Pailhé, Patrick Simon


Though intergenerational mobility is a classic field of research in France, the social trajectories of immigrants’ descendants are a relatively new topic of interest. Using data from the Study of Family History survey combined with the 1999 census, this article analyses the occupational integration of the children of immigrants compared with immigrants themselves and “native” French people, as reflected by access to employment and labour market status. Though the types of employment occupied have changed substantially from one generation to the next, the “second generations” are still severely disadvantaged on the labour market, facing overexposure to unemployment, job insecurity and heavy reliance on subsidized jobs. On the other hand, the strong occupational segregation observed for immigrants decreases with the next generation, indicating a process of diffusion across the labour market. The persistent gap between second generations and native French people contradicts the hypothesis of intergenerational mobility between immigrants and their descendants as a result of schooling and socialization in France. This “inherited” disadvantage testifies to the reality of discrimination that weighs most heavily on the trajectories of sub-Saharan African, North African and Turkish immigrants, but also on those of their descendants.

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