Integration in the Labour Market: Employment and Earnings among Descendants of Immigrants in Norway

by Torgeir Gjendem Mortensen


Torgeir Gjendem Mortensen (2013) Integration in the Labour Market: Employment and Earnings among Descendants of Immigrants in Norway. Master Thesis, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo.


Norway has been an immigrant country since the late 1960s and minority integration has since been a recurrent source of newspaper headlines and political debate. Now - nearly 50 years later - Norway is hosting a substantial immigrant population, and face the critical challenge of integrating their children. The economic sustainability of the welfare state could in part depend on the effective integration of descendants of immigrants to the point that they can participate in the labour force on par with native majority persons. At the start of 2013, this group consisted of over 117,000 persons, a majority of which still under the age of 20 years. Thus, in the next few years, a high number of Norwegian-born children of immigrants will seek to gain access to the labour market.

To assess the labour market integration of this group, I ask two questions. One, what is their employment probability the year after graduation, and second; what are their earnings after gaining employment? Their labour market outcomes are contrasted with the results of the native majority population. In the analyses, I investigate whether there are different outcomes within specific educational fields. Due to low observation numbers within the specific fields, I choose to group descendants of immigrants into two categories; OECD and non-OECD, based on the country their parents emigrated from. To answer the research questions, I use the statistical tools multivariate binary logistic regression and multivariate linear regression.

The administrative registers used in the analyses are gathered by the research project DISCRIM: Measuring and Explaining discrimination in the labour market. The information in the data set stretches from the start of 2000 until the end of 2010. The data set contains information about all persons born between 1965 and 1989 who graduated from a higher education institution registered in Norway between 2000 and 2009, and who either have two foreign-born parents or two Norwegian-born parents (N=229 147).

I report the results of two sets of analyses. To avoid conflating gender effect with national ancestry effect, I conduct separate analyses for men and women. I find that descendants of immigrants have lower probabilities to gain employment the year after graduation compared to native majority persons. The models include controll for age at graduation and time of graduation. The results are statistically significant both before and after adding fixed effects of narrow education fields in the models. However, the interaction terms between national ancestry and the education fields Business, Engineer, Nursing and Medicine are not significant.

In the second set of the analyses, I analyse earnings. I find a bipolar pattern divided along gender. Once employed, there are generally no earnings disparity between female descendants of non-OECD immigrants and native majority women. However, within the groups of Business and Engineer graduates, female descendants of non-OECD immigrants earn significantly less than majority women. Furthermore, I find some small earnings disadvantages for female descendants of OECD immigrants.

For men, there are no disadvantages for descendants of non-OECD immigrants, whereas there are small, but significant, earnings advantages for descendants of OECD immigrants compared to the native majority. Furthermore, within the groups of Business and Engineer graduates, I find significant earnings advantages for male descendants of non-OECD immigrants, compared to native majority men.

The results of this study indicate that the largest disadvantage for descendants of immigrants occurs in the entrance to the labour market. The study corroborates earlier findings in Norway. Within the international literature, the Norwegian pattern resembles the findings in Great Britain and Sweden, as well as traditional immigration countries like Australia, Canada and USA. The labour market disadvantage for descendants of immigrants is mainly in the entrance to the labour market, but when successfully employed, they receive similar returns as their native majority peers.

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Published Oct. 12, 2016 10:33 AM - Last modified Oct. 12, 2016 10:33 AM