Another lost generation?

Entering the workforce for the first time is a challenge for most people, but can be even more difficult for immigrants. Recent data collected across OECD countries reveals that children of immigrants experience higher unemployment and have more difficulty finding jobs than children of native parents. Even when they are born and raised in their country of residence, the employment rate of children of immigrants can be as much as 20% lower than their counterparts.

Equal Opportunities? The Labour Market Integration of the Children of Immigrants attributes part of this difference to the target group’s educational levels, which are generally lower than that of children of native parents and often reflect parents’ lower socio-economic backgrounds. Still, in some cases, parents’ income and level of education do not tell the whole story. Limited access to professional networks, little knowledge about local labour markets, and widespread discrimination by prospective employers also pose formidable obstacles to the job search of these children.

The report confirms distinct differences in outcomes across OECD countries and among immigrant groups. For instance, children of immigrants fare better, on average, in the United States, Canada and Australia, than they do in Europe. Children of Turkish, North African or Mexican descent are generally worse off than the offspring of European or Asian immigrants, regardless of their country of residence. Such disparities suggest that opportunities for disadvantaged groups partly depend on institutional settings in particular countries.

With children of immigrants accounting for over 10% of young adults in the labour market in most OECD countries, focusing on improving labour market outcomes for this group is not a luxury. Drawing from past experiences, this report argues that wisely-implemented mentoring and job-matching programmes, as well as affirmative action policies, can help close the achievement gap for children of immigrants. It urges governments to learn from each other in order to develop more effective and proactive policies that will not only improve employment opportunities for young people, but will boost social cohesion in the process.

ISBN 978-92-64-08239-7

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©OECD Observer No 280, July 2010

Economic data

GDP growth: -9.8% Q2/Q1 2020 2020
Consumer price inflation: 1.3% Sep 2020 annual
Trade (G20): -17.7% exp, -16.7% imp, Q2/Q1 2020
Unemployment: 7.3% Sep 2020
Last update: 10 Nov 2020

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