ARBEIT: The Role of Discrimination in the Labor Market Situation of Young People with a Migrant Background


In the last years a number of research projects tried to explain the employment gaps of immigrants and their children. This line of research follows two different methodological approaches. First, a number of papers use population surveys and analyses of official statistics to show that at least part of the employment gaps of immigrants can be traced back to educational differences. However, even if one accounts for education, large gaps in employment probabilities between natives and immigrants remain.  A second strand of the literature focuses on experimental methods to investigate whether employment gaps can be explained by discrimination by employers. To do so, scholars send out fictitious job applications in which they vary the ethnic group of the applicant but keep other characteristics, such as the educational level and previous job experience, constant. These studies almost always find evidence of discrimination against minority applicants. However, a major disadvantage is their limited generalizability, as they do not allow for direct estimates of the share of the variance in employment that is explained by discrimination relative to other factors.

Even though there is rich evidence on the two different methodological approaches, a synthesizing analysis is missing. Therefore, the aim of the subproject ARBEIT is to investigate the causes of labor market disadvantages of persons with migration background and the relative influence of discrimination and other potential causes (e.g. educational differences). In a first step, we will review the current state of research based on results from population surveys, analyses of official statistics, and experimental studies. We will systematically analyze collected findings to identify gaps in the academic literature. If possible, we will conduct further analyses of existing data sets in a second step to close the gaps that we identified and formulate implications for subsequent research.

The ARBEIT project is a cooperation project of the DeZIM research community.

Project Management
Herbert Brücker (IAB), Frank Kalter (MZES)
David Kretschmer (MZES)
2018 - 2019
Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (BMFSFJ)
Cooperation partners
Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB)
Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung (MZES)