Frank Kalter, Irena Kogan
Migrant Networks and Labor Market Integration of Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Germany

Social Forces, 2014: 92, issue 4, pp. 1435-1456
ISSN: 0037-7732 (print); 1534-7605 (online)

Migrant networks are usually regarded as helpful for the labor market integration of recently arrived immigrants. From a general assimilation perspective, however, it has been questioned whether they are really the right sort of ties to help immigrants succeed in the host society, or whether, instead, they constitute some sort of mobility trap. Empirical evidence from available studies is mixed, and a reference to more general social capital theory suggests that the effect might be contingent on the institutional context of the receiving country, the specific immigrant groups involved, and the particular types of jobs. In this paper, we study the impact of migrant networks on the labor market integration of recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Germany. This turns out to be a strategic test case, for both theoretical and methodological reasons. Relying on longitudinal data and using discrete event history models, we show that the findings are different for two distinguishable groups involved, Ethnic Germans and Jewish Quota Refugees, and that whether the effects are positive or negative further depends on whether or not these groups seek entry to higher-status jobs in the professional, managerial, or technical occupations.