The occupational status of immigrants in Western and non-Western societies

Christoph Spörlein, Frank van Tubergen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study examines existing hypotheses on cross-national differences in immigrants' labor market integration. Unlike previous research, which focused on Western countries, we study the occupational status of immigrants in both Western and non-Western countries. We use census data for 45 Western and non-Western destination countries and test hypotheses derived from human capital and discrimination theory applying multilevel modeling. The analysis shows that differences in immigrants' occupational status attainment can partly be explained by pre-migration language exposure, economic advancement of the origin country, geographical distance, group size, and the religious as well as socioeconomic distance of immigrant groups and the majority population. Despite differences in the magnitude of effects, patterns of immigrants' occupational attainment appear comparable between Western and non-Western societies. We do not find compelling evidence that human capital factors are consistently more important in Western societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-143
Number of pages25
JournalInternational Journal of Comparative Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Cross-national research
  • ethnic inequality
  • immigrants
  • labor market
  • non-Western societies


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