Into the Abyss: Occupational Segregation of Immigrant Workers and the Spanish Crisis 2006-2012

Gayle Allard, Vanina Farber


Spain became one of the world’s top immigration destinations in the 21st century, with the share of migrants in employment climbing to a peak of 17% just as the crisis hit the country. How did these immigrants fare in a rigid labour market as the housing bubble burst and recession brought soaring unemployment? Our paper explores the occupational segregation of Spain’s immigrants and finds that it declined in the wake of the crisis. The improvement, however, obscures massive job destruction in temporary jobs and in the low-skilled sectors where foreigners were concentrated. The results point to the need for better skills and training and measures to tackle the deep permanent/temporary contract divides in Spain, to protect migrant workers as well as unskilled Spaniards.

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