[Europe] Immigrant Children Experience High Levels of Discrimination when Entering the Labor Market

14 Aug 2019

A recently published study by the EU-funded project GEMM (Growth, Equal Opportunities, Migration and Markets), and its partner, Charles III University of Madrid (UC3M), examined hiring practices across Europe. The study found that children with an immigrant background are subject to discrimination when entering the labour market. In a world characterized progressively by human migration, the management and integration of labour mobility has to become a prerequisite to achieving a prosperous and cohesive society.

The research questions whether the conditions of accessing the labour market for children of immigrant parents, mostly born outside the European Union, are equal to those experienced by the decedents of native-born individuals. The study analyses how some 19,000 companies from Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Norway proceed during the hiring process. ‘For that purpose, researchers compared the response the candidates received from the companies analysed with candidates who had CVs with identical features, but with native-born parents’, explained the researchers.

According to the study findings, the discrimination levels identified in Great Britain and Norway are alarming in comparison to Germany and Spain. The lower number of discrimination cases in Spanish companies was not anticipated by the researchers. Dr. Javier Polavieja, the UC3M project leader, pointed out that ‘the results for Spain are especially relevant if we take into account that our country has experienced the most severe economic crisis of all the countries in the study, and furthermore, that the crisis was preceded by the largest increase in the flow of immigration experienced in Europe, this could have led us to expect that Spain would be among the countries that discriminate the most, not the least.’ ‘The mechanism behind discrimination is not lack of information, but rather the prejudicial attitudes and stereotypes held by employers, or perhaps their unconscious discriminatory behaviours’, Dr. Polavieja added.

The study was part of the GEMM project, which was finalized in 2018. The project aimed to analyse the main impediments to the inclusion of migrants, and what factors attract and retain highly skilled workers.


This project is funded by: