, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 231–257 | Cite as

Do Immigrants Suffer More From Job Loss? Unemployment and Subjective Well-being in Germany

  • Liliya LeopoldEmail author
  • Thomas Leopold
  • Clemens M. Lechner


This study asks whether immigrants suffer more from unemployment than German natives. Differences between these groups in pre-unemployment characteristics, the type of the transition into unemployment, and the consequences of this transition suggest that factors intensifying the negative impact of unemployment on subjective well-being are more concentrated in immigrants than in natives. Based on longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (1990–2014; N = 34,767 persons aged 20 to 64; N = 210,930 person-years), we used fixed-effects models to trace within-person change in subjective well-being across the transition from employment into unemployment and over several years of continued unemployment. Results showed that immigrants’ average declines in subjective well-being exceeded those of natives. Further analyses revealed gender interactions. Among women, declines were smaller and similar among immigrants and natives. Among men, declines were larger and differed between immigrants and natives. Immigrant men showed the largest declines, amounting to one standard deviation of within-person change over time in subjective well-being. Normative, social, and economic factors did not explain these disproportionate declines. We discuss alternative explanations for why immigrant men are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of unemployment in Germany.


Unemployment Immigrants and natives Subjective well-being Panel data Fixed-effects models 



Replication files and supplementary material are available at the authors’ websites (,, and We thank Thijs Bol, Irena Kogan, and seminar participants at the University of Amsterdam for their comments on earlier versions of this article.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liliya Leopold
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thomas Leopold
    • 1
  • Clemens M. Lechner
    • 2
  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social SciencesMannheimGermany

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