Insights on Immigration and Development
Working Papers
Working paper # 12

Immigrants in Denmark: An Analysis of Access to Employment, Class Attainment and Earnings in a High-Skilled Economy

By Stefanie Brodmann and Javier G. Polavieja
(July 2009)

This paper analyses the process of labour market insertion of first-generation immigrants in Denmark using Danish administrative data for 2002. Results show that there are large gaps in participation and employment opportunities between native born Danes and immigrants, as well as within immigrants depending on the country of origin and time of arrival. These gaps are significantly larger for non-Western immigrants and for those arriving after 1984 and do not seem to be significantly reduced after controlling for education. Analysis of class attainment shows that immigrants are significantly less likely to access jobs in the professional and intermediate classes but more likely to be self-employed than their native-born counterparts. The probability of being employed in professional and intermediate classes increases over arrival-cohorts, although the increase is more marked in the case of the latter class. There are also significant differences in class attainment by country of origin. Differences in class attainment and in work experience play a crucial role in explaining immigrants-native gaps in earnings. The paper ends with a discussion of the relationship between the labour market performance of immigrants and the Danish ‘flexicurity’ model.

Keywords: Immigrants; Employment; Class Attainment; Earnings; Labour Demand; Specific Skills; Denmark


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