European Journal of Population

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 223–255 | Cite as

Immigrant Occupational Mobility: Longitudinal Evidence from Spain

  • Hipólito SimónEmail author
  • Raul Ramos
  • Esteban Sanromá


This article examines the occupational mobility of immigrants between their countries of origin and Spain on the basis of one of the few surveys available internationally with longitudinal information on immigrant employment in home and host countries. The evidence shows that the occupational status of immigrants in the Spanish labour market is, in general, substantially worse than in their countries of origin. The severe loss of occupational status experienced by immigrants is explained by the combined effect of the intense initial downgrading they experience when entering the Spanish labour market and their very slow occupational progress during their stay in Spain. These findings are more in line with the segmented assimilation theory, which suggests a limited or blocked immigrant occupational mobility, than with the assimilation theory, which predicts a U shaped evolution in the occupational status of immigrants between their home and host countries. As a result, the Spanish case contrasts sharply with previous evidence for other advanced countries, which tends to support the assimilation perspective. Finally, the empirical evidence suggests that one of the elements impeding the occupational mobility of immigrants in Spain is the significant size of the secondary segment of the labour market, which restricts immigrants’ opportunities mainly to low-status occupations.


Immigration Occupational mobility Spain 

Jel Classification

J15 J24 J61 J62 



The authors gratefully acknowledge the support received from the Spanish Ministries of Science and of Economy and Competitiveness through the projects ECO2010-16006, ECO2010-16934 and CSO2011-29943-C03-02 and from the Catalan Government through the project 2010 ARF1 00044.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hipólito Simón
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Raul Ramos
    • 2
  • Esteban Sanromá
    • 3
  1. 1.IEIUniversidad de AlicanteAlicanteSpain
  2. 2.AQR-IREAUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.IEBUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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