Transnational Status Inconsistency: The Unequal Occupational Effects of Migration

Mathieu Ichou , Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Louise Caron, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Many studies compare immigrants and natives in the immigration society to assess immigrants' socioeconomic integration. Here, we adopt an alternative perspective. Instead of considering the natives as the obvious reference group, we compare immigrants' occupational status in the immigration society with their own pre-migration status. Our main research question examines the role of international mobility in increasing or reducing occupational inequality among immigrants. We use data from the Trajectoires et Origines survey (2008-2009), which combines two rare qualities: 1) a large and nationally representative sample of immigrants in France (N=8456); 2) precise retrospective information on the employment status and occupation of immigrants before migration, upon arrival in France and at the time of the survey. Our preliminary analyses produce three main findings. First, the majority of immigrants experience an occupational decline between their last occupation prior to migration and their current occupation in France. This post-migration occupational demotion is relatively more frequent among immigrants coming from Africa than among immigrants from Europe and Asia. Second, the experience of occupational decline happens upon arrival in France. This social status decline is more pronounced for immigrants who were initially privileged in their country of origin. In other words, one of the short-term effects of migration is an equalization in social status among immigrants. Third, over time spent in France, inequalities in occupational status tend to grow again slightly: immigrants who were initially privileged in their country of origin regain more of their relative pre-migration status than their initially more disadvantaged peers.

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 Presented in Session 69. Multi-Sited Approaches of Migration