Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

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Employment Returns to Tertiary Education for Immigrants in Western Europe: Cross-Country Differences Before and After the Economic Crisis

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Abstract:  This article contributes to the literature on the models of immigrants’ labour market incorporation in Western Europe by analysing the employment returns to tertiary education for both natives and immigrants. By using yearly EU-LFS data (2005–2013) for a selection of Western European countries, cross-country differences in the employment returns to tertiary education are analysed separately by immigrant status and gender. In Continental Europe, where immigrant-native employment gaps before the crisis were much larger than in Southern Europe, immigrants are found to benefit more from tertiary education, and their returns are also higher than for natives, while the opposite holds in Southern European countries. The same pattern is found irrespective of gender, but cross-country differences are more pronounced among women. The article also documents that the crisis contributed to a cross-country convergence, although limited to men, in the degree of immigrant employment disadvantage, which increased substantially in Southern Europe while remaining unchanged or slightly declining in all other countries. Nevertheless, although immigrant-native employment gaps grew as high as in Continental Europe, immigrant men in Southern Europe are still found to benefit from lower returns to tertiary education than their native counterparts.

Keywords:  economic crisis; education; ethnic inequality; labour market; migration; Western Europe



© Raffaele Guetto. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.