Who benefits from host country skills? Evidence of heterogeneous labour market returns to host country skills by migrant motivation

Publication type

ISER Working Paper Series

Series Number



ISER Working Paper Series


Publication date

May 1, 2020


Despite the extensive literature on the economic incorporation of migrants, little is known about the ways in which integration patterns differ across migrants depending on their motivation for migrating (e.g. economic, family, humanitarian). These initial motivations are associated with very different outcomes in the host society. Migrants generally do better in the labour market over time as they acquire host country human capital and labour market performance-relevant skills, but does the same pattern hold for each type of migrant? Policies that aim to increase overall labour market participation should take account of the increasingly diverse migrant population in Europe. We use detailed data from the 2008 and 2014 ad hoc modules of the EU Labour Force Survey to study labour market returns to host country-relevant skills, taking into account a range of individual and contextual factors. We show these patterns differ between recent migrants: higher host-country acquisitions are associated with improved labour market outcomes, but particularly for non-economic migrants. These findings are consistent over qualification levels and persist even within the more established migrant groups.


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