Journal Article

Labour-market assimilation of foreign workers in Italy

Alessandra Venturini and Claudia Villosio

in Oxford Review of Economic Policy

Published on behalf of The Oxford Review of Economic Policy Ltd

Volume 24, issue 3, pages 517-541
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 0266-903X
Published online January 2008 | e-ISSN: 1460-2121 | DOI:
Labour-market assimilation of foreign workers in Italy

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  • Economic Development and Growth
  • Public Economics
  • Political Economy
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This is the first paper to analyse the labour-market assimilation of foreign (i.e. non-citizen) workers in Italy. It considers the daily wages and the days of employment of male workers in WHIP, a matched employer–employee panel dataset, from 1990 to 2003. The traditional human-capital approach is augmented by a control for the probability of staying abroad, modelled by aggregate variables of the origin country. The human-capital variables considered are age and experience, both in and out of employment. What emerges from the empirical analysis is discouraging. Foreigners who are able to get higher wages are the least likely to stay, but assimilation profiles do not change when return migration is taken into account. Foreigners employed in the private sector earn the same wages as natives upon entry into employment, but the two wage profiles diverge with on-the-job experience. Neither do foreigners assimilate from an employment perspective: a differential in employment between foreign and native workers is found even upon entry, which increases over time. In the construction sector the wage and employment differential is even larger, while manufacturing and services follow the aggregate trend. Africans immigrants have the fewest career prospects while Eastern European and Asian workers are less far behind. The general pattern for foreign workers appears to be a fragmented career, either restricted to seasonal or temporary jobs or alternating between legal and illegal employment.

Keywords: wage assimilation; employment assimilation; J61

Journal Article.  11037 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth ; Public Economics ; Political Economy ; Public Policy

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