Immigrants’ Career Changes in German Organizations

Research question/goal: 

This project investigates migrants’ career trajectories over their working lives. Although it is well known that migrants fare economically worse than natives, the mechanisms are not well understood for all points of their careers. Studies show that foreign educational and professional qualifications tend to be falsely recognized, downgraded, or not recognized. However, migrants who find employment enter organizations that subsequently allow them to acquire firm- and occupation-specific skills and knowledge. This project takes a career-focused approach that aims to scrutinize the degree to which these competencies aid migrants’ economic integration. It will examine migrants’ job transitions from both individual and organizational perspectives. First, it analyses migrants’ labour market access from the firm side by using data containing information on job vacancies, job postings, and the firm-specific hiring processes. Second, it uses the Linked-Employer-Employee-Data of the IAB (LIAB), a panel dataset, to analyse individual career changes within and between establishments. This approach captures the effect of individual-level traits such as education, age, gender, and prior working experience along with firm-level traits such as firm age, industry, size, and structure, asking how each of these affects migrants’ work trajectories. This project has implications for the integration of immigrants, organizational strategies, and the larger economy.

Current stage: 

The project team has completed the preliminary data exploration and the sample design. This initial work involved both regular stays at the GESIS facilities to access data and the preparation of code files for the online submission. These steps have opened an innovative perspective on the underlying IAB data. This perspective focusses on instances in which workers transition from one surveyed establishment to another. These cases are rare but sufficient for a systematic analysis due to the IAB's large size. The main advantage of this sample design is the possibility to position an individual employee in the context of all colleagues at an origin and destination firm. On this basis, we can develop a new understanding of economic mobility. The perspective seems particularly useful for studying immigrants' economic integration, which is the focus of this project, as it offers a better insight into informal processes than previous approaches did. Several workshops have provided feedback on this aspect and helped specify research questions, analytical approaches, and possible contributions. The initial work and feedback have informed a DFG (German Research Foundation) proposal, which is undergoing final revisions before submission.

Fact sheet

Funding: 
MZES
Duration: 
2019 to 2022
Status: 
in preparation
Data Sources: 
Linked-Employer-Employee-Data of the IAB
Geographic Space: 
Germany

Publications