Occupational exposure to foreigners and attitudes towards equal opportunities

Marco Pecoraro, Didier Ruedin
  • Migration Studies, March 2019, Oxford University Press (OUP)
  • DOI: 10.1093/migration/mnz006

Workers react to the share of foreign workers in their occupation

Photo by Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa on Unsplash

Photo by Josue Isai Ramos Figueroa on Unsplash

What is it about?

We find that a higher share of foreigners in one’s occupation correlates with more negative attitudes to immigrants: Workers react negatively to competition with foreigners. We also find that objective pressures in the labour market (the unemployment rate in each occupation) matter, just like contact with foreigners at work seem to alleviate negative attitudes. It turns out that sorting on job quality can probably account for these factors, especially objective pressures in the labour market. In sum, it appears that workers react to immigrants at work in a differentiated manner. On the one hand, they dislike workers competing with them, on the other hand, they welcome them when they help overcome labour market shortages.

Why is it important?

Many studies suggest that competition in the labour market does not matter for negative attitudes to foreigners, but they do not provide a realistic picture of the segmented labour market. Understanding how negative attitudes are shaped allows us to think about measures to reduce grievances.


Didier Ruedin (Author)
University of Neuchâtel

Here we try to contribute a more nuanced picture to a literature that seems to be concerned with pitching different theories against each other, even though we know that different mechansism are at work concurrently. The results are a nice 'it depends'.

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The following have contributed to this page: Marco Pecoraro and Didier Ruedin