To read this content please select one of the options below:

Economic Progress, Stagnation, or Decline? Occupational Mobility of Non-Eu Immigrants in Europe

Immigration and Work

ISBN: 978-1-78441-632-4, eISBN: 978-1-78441-631-7

Publication date: 31 March 2015



To identify the trajectories of occupational mobility among non-EU immigrant workers in Europe and to test empirical data against neoclassical human capital theory that predicts upward occupational mobility and labor market segmentation theories proposing immigrant confinement to secondary segments.


Data from survey and semi-structured interviews (2,859 and 357, respectively) with immigrants from Brazil, Ukraine, and Morocco in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and Norway. Multinomial regression analysis to test the likelihood of moving downward, upward, or stability and identify explanatory factors, complemented with qualitative evidence.


We found support for the thesis of segmented labor market theories of limited upward occupational mobility following migration. However, immigrants with longer residence in the destination country have higher chances of upward mobility compared to stability and downward mobility, giving also support for the neoclassical human capital theory. Frail legal status impacts negatively on upward mobility chances and men more often experience upward mobility after migration than women.

Research limitations/implications

Findings reflect the specific situation of immigrants from three origin countries in four destination areas and cannot be taken as representative. In the multinomial regression we cannot distinguish between cohort effects and duration of stay.

Social implications

Education obtained in the destination country is very important for migrants’ upward occupational mobility, bearing important policy implications with regards to migrants’ integration.

Originality/value of paper

Its focus on trajectories of mobility through migration looking at two important transitions: (1) from last occupation in the origin country to first occupation at destination and (2) from first occupation to current occupation and offers a wide cross-country comparison both in terms of origin and destination countries in Europe.



Pereira, S., Snel, E. and ‘t Hart, M. (2015), "Economic Progress, Stagnation, or Decline? Occupational Mobility of Non-Eu Immigrants in Europe", Immigration and Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 129-165.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015 Emerald Group Publishing Limited