First and second-generation immigrants - statistics on employment conditions

Data extracted in September 2016. Article will not be updated
Authors: Georgiana Ivan, Mihaela Agafiţei

This article provides an overview of the employment conditions of immigrants and their descendants, within the European Union (EU). It is part of a set of an online publication First and second-generation immigrants - a statistical overview based on data collected by Eurostat from the 2014 Labour Force Survey (LFS) ad-hoc module on the ‘Labour market situation of immigrants and their immediate descendants’.

The analysis includes the main characteristics of the employed population by migration status (see Figure 1) and their distribution within the following employment indicators:

  • Occupation: classified into groups according to the tasks and duties undertaken in the job and the level of qualification and skills associated to them (eg.: ‘Plant and machine operators and assemblers’);
  • Activity: the classification according to the economic activity of the enterprise by which the person is (self)-employed (eg.: ‘agriculture’);
  • Share of self-employment;
  • Share of temporary contracts;
  • Share of part-time jobs;
  • Share of atypical working time;
  • Methods to find the current job.

The analysis focuses on the employed persons within the 25–54 age group, with the aim of excluding migration related to non-economic reasons such as study and retirement. This also reduces the effect of different age structures of the three main migration status groups. In 2014, there were around 9 150 000 ‘second-generation immigrants’ and 20 850 000 ‘first-generation immigrants’ employed in the EU, which made up 5.6 % and 12.7 %, respectively of the EU employed population aged 25–54. See ‘Methodology/Metadata’ for further details.

Figure 1: Migration status -First and second-generation immigrants - statistics on employment conditions (For further information see metadata below)
Figure 2: Occupation of employees by migration status and year, EU, 2008 and 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Figure 3: Occupation of first-generation immigrant employees, by origin, EU, 2008 and 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Table 1: Top three occupational groups of first-generation immigrant employees, 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Table 2: Main activity sector of immigrants, by migration status and year, EU, 2014 and 2008
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Table 3: Main activity sectors of first-generation immigrant employees by origin, EU, 2014 and 2008
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Table 4: Top three activities of first-generation immigrant employees, 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Figure 4: Self-employment by migration status and origin, EU, 2008 and 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Table 5: Self-employment, by origin, 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Figure 5: Temporary contract by migration status and origin, 2008 and 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Table 6: Employees with temporary contracts, by origin, 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Figure 6: Part-time employment by migration status, sex and origin, EU, 2008 and 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Table 7: Part-time employment, by origin, 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Figure 7: Atypical working time by migration status, sex and origin, EU, 2008 and 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Table 8: Atypical working time by migration status and origin, 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008
Figure 8: Method to find a job by migration status, 2014
Source: Eurostat, EU LFS AHM2014/2008

Main statistical findings

Overall, the labour market conditions of ‘second-generation immigrants’ who are employed are better than those of ‘first-generation immigrants’, and in some cases, even better than those of natives with native background.

More concretely, in 2014 52.4 % of ‘second-generation immigrants’ in the EU worked in a highly skilled white-collar job (ISCO codes 1–3), compared with 42.0 % of ‘the natives with native background’ and 32.0 % of the ‘first-generation immigrants’.

Also, at EU level ‘second-generation immigrants’ were the least likely migration status group to be self-employed in 2014 (14.6 % for those of ‘EU origins’ and 11.5 % for those of ‘non-EU origins’, compared with 18.9 % for natives); to have a temporary contract (but this applied only to those with at least one parent born in an EU country, for which the percentage stood at 10.8 % , compared with 17 % for ‘first-generation immigrants’ born in a non-EU country); and to have an atypical working schedule (working during nights, evenings or weekends).

Compared with 2008, both the first and the second generation of immigrants are less likely to work in manual occupations and therefore more likely to work in service-related or office jobs (reaching an increase of 5.1 percentage points (pp) for highly skilled white collar jobs in the case of ‘second-generation immigrants’). This trend is present as well, although less visible in the case of natives with native background.

The percentage of self-employed also registered an overall increase between 2008 and 2014 (between 0.2 pp for the second-generation of self-employed of ‘EU origins’ and 1.5 pp for 'first-generation' of ‘non-EU origins’), and the same can be said about the share of employees with an atypical working schedule and of those with a temporary contract (for the latter indicator this only applied to the natives with native background).


The International standard classification of occupations (ISCO) classifies the occupation status of employed persons into 10 major categories [1]. The first 3 include occupations requiring a high level of qualifications, the next 4 are occupations which generally require medium skills (and can be further divided into white collar/office and service jobs and blue collar/manual occupations that require a certain level of skill and training), while the last 2 groups comprise unskilled workers (see Figure 2 and [2]for detail on the four groups of occupation).

The ‘native-born with native background’ and the ‘second-generation immigrants’ showed a more similar pattern in terms of occupational structure, while the comparison with ‘first-generation immigrants’ was more divergent. This difference comes from the general tendency of ‘first-generation immigrants’ to work in less qualified jobs (elementary occupations and service workers were the two most common occupational categories for them in 2014), while both ‘second-generation immigrants’ and ‘native-born with native background’ were in a larger proportion engaged in jobs requiring higher qualifications (especially professionals and technicians). ‘Second-generation immigrants’ were much more often employed in highly skilled occupational categories (which frequently require tertiary education), even when comparing with the ‘native-born with native background’ (52.4 % work in ISCO codes 1–3 occupations, compared with 42 % of the natives). On the other hand, ‘second-generation immigrants’ tend to be younger, and therefore more qualified on average, compared with the ‘native-born with native background’ [3].

In 2014, more than one in four ‘first-generation immigrants’ in the EU was employed in ‘unskilled blue collar occupations’ (‘plant and machine operators and assemblers and elementary occupations’) (see Figure 2). These occupational categories include jobs which in general require a low level of qualifications (i.e. primary education). By comparison in both the ‘second-generation immigrants’ and ‘natives-born with native background’ groups, only 13 or 16 out of every hundred employees undertook this kind of occupation.

On the other hand, almost 1 in 3 ‘first-generation immigrants’ in the EU were employed in highly skilled office occupations (‘senior officials, managers’, ‘professionals’ and ‘technicians’). These occupational groups consist generally (but not always) of highly qualified workers with a first or second stage of tertiary education, leading to an advanced research qualification. By contrast, a little more than half of ‘second-generation immigrants’ and 4 in 10 ‘natives with native background’ worked in these highly qualified occupations. This shows that the labour market conditions of ‘second-generation immigrants’ were much better compared with those of the first generation.

It is interesting to note that, while the percentage of those employed in low skilled white collar occupations (administrative and service jobs) was the same for all the migration statuses (around 26.0 %), a smaller share of immigrants, especially of ‘second-generation’ worked in skilled blue collar occupations (8.7 % and 13.1 %, compared with 16.5 %). The latter comprises the categories ‘skilled agricultural and fishery workers’ and ‘craft and related trade workers’. Part of the explanation could be that these activities are linked to family labour force and to resources (land, ships and tools) passed down through generations of ‘native-born with native background’. Another possibility is that the labour force working in these areas (especially skilled agricultural and fishery workers) is more concentrated in countries in which fewer immigrants exist.

The structural change of the economy over the 2008–14 period had a stronger impact on the occupational structure of immigrants (especially the second generation), while for ‘native-born with native background’ the changes were minimal. The general trend consisted of an increase in more professionalised and service oriented jobs (so called ‘white-collar’ jobs), accompanied by a decrease in low skilled occupations linked to production and other manual jobs, noted especially in the case of immigrants.

The proportions of those employed in ‘white-collar occupations’ presented an increase within all migration statuses, reaching a growth of 5.1 pp among ‘second-generation immigrants’ for highly skilled non-manual jobs and 3.7 pp among ‘first-generation immigrants’ and 2.3 pp among natives for the low skilled ones. On the other hand, the percentages of people working in ‘unskilled blue collar occupations’ was lower in 2014 than in 2008, especially for the second (– 3.0 pp) and first (– 1.5 pp) generations of immigrants. The same trend can be noticed for skilled manual jobs, for which the decrease was even stronger in both relative and absolute terms (– 3.6 pp for the second generation and – 4.3 pp for the first one).

Figure 3 further details the figures for ‘first-generation immigrants’ broken down by ‘EU origins’ and ‘non-EU origins’. In 2014, foreign-born workers of ‘EU origins’ were more likely to be employed in ‘skilled occupations’, either highly skilled white collar ones (+ 3.9 pp) or the manual categories (+ 3.3 pp) compared with their counterparts of ‘non-EU origins’. This could also be due to the fact that their qualifications are more easily officially recognised in another Member State. On the other hand, non-EU migrants were almost equally likely to be found in unskilled manual jobs and the ‘highly skilled professionals’ category (29.4 % compared with 30.6 %).

The changes taking place between 2008 and 2014 show a slight increase in the prevalence of low skilled jobs (+ 2.1 pp in the case of non-manual occupations and 2.7 pp for the manual ones) among EU-born ‘first-generation immigrants’. This may be a temporary effect of the crisis, or it could be due to the differences in coverage between the two reference years (the absence of a few countries from the 2014 wave). A more positive trend can be noticed for ‘first-generation immigrants’ born in a non-EU country: a higher prevalence of skilled and service (white-collar) jobs and a lower one for manual jobs (especially regarding elementary occupations and craft workers).

Table 1 presents the three main job occupations of ‘first-generation immigrants’ for each EU Member State where data was available in 2014. The resulting picture was diverse: in 6 out of 22 EU Member States, ‘elementary occupations’ ranked first in the list of the most frequent occupations. Spain and Italy were part of this group. They were also two of the biggest contributors to the total EU population of ‘first-generation immigrants’, which justifies the fact that ‘elementary occupations’ ranked first in the EU aggregate.

The occupation ‘service workers and shop and market sales workers’ came in second at EU level, with only Latvia and Slovenia not presenting this occupation in their top three ranking.

‘Professionals’ were classified as a top three occupation in 13 out of 22 EU Member States with available data, including the United Kingdom and France, which both had large shares of EU foreign-born population. For ‘first-generation immigrants’ employed in Luxembourg, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the most frequent occupation was ‘professionals’. It can therefore be said that these Member States mostly attracted highly skilled migrants. In Belgium, France, Lithuania and Malta, ‘professionals’ ranked second and in the Czech Republic as well as in Cyprus it was the third most frequent occupational category of ‘first-generation immigrants’. The ‘professionals’ category also ranked third in the EU aggregate, which indicates the ability of the EU to also attract highly qualified immigrants.


The Eurostat statistical classification of economic activities in the European Community (NACE) is used to code the main economic activity of enterprises. Table 2 shows the activities by migration status.

When analysing this distribution of employment by type of activity among the three migration statuses, we note less difference between ‘first-generation immigrants’ and ‘second-generation immigrants’ than when analysing the occupational structure (see previous section). This could be related to the fact that occupation is much more linked to the skills and educational achievement, while activity of the enterprise is a broader concept more concerned with the economic structure.

In 2014, ‘manufacturing’ together with ‘wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles’ (from here on referred to as ‘wholesale and retail trade’) were the only two activity sectors in which the ‘native-born with native background’ were more likely to be employed than immigrants, regardless of the generation. At the same time, these were also the sectors that employ most workers, almost a third (30.2 %) of the ‘native-born with native background’ (16.0 % and 14.2 %, respectively) and a quarter of the ‘first-generation immigrants’ (12.2 % and 12.0 % respectively). In the case of ‘second-generation immigrants’ ‘manufacturing’ ranked third (11.5 %), while the first two were ‘wholesale and retail trade’ (12.6 %) and ‘human health and social activities’ (12.2 %).

There was a large group of activities where the shares of employed ‘native-born with native background’ and ‘second-generation immigrants’ were similar and for which ‘first-generation immigrants’ presented higher shares. These included ‘construction’, ‘accommodation and food service activities’, ‘administrative and support services’ and ‘activities of households as employers’. In particular, ‘first-generation immigrants’ were much more likely to be employed in the latter sector (7.4 % as compared to less than 1 % for the other two groups), and more than twice as likely compared with both other groups to be working in the hospitality sector. In the case of ‘education’ and ‘public administration and defence; compulsory social security’, ‘first-generation immigrants’ presented much lower shares employed in this activity sector while the percentages in the other two groups were more alike (in the case of the latter, 2.9 % compared with 7.7 % and 7.8 %).

More than one in every ten ‘second-generation immigrants’ worked in ‘human health and social work activities’, and this share was higher than for the other two groups. Higher shares of the employed among ‘second-generation immigrants’ were also found in the case of ‘professionals’, ‘education’ and, most remarkably, ‘information and communication’ compared with ‘native-born with native background’ and ‘first-generation immigrants’. As it was already mentioned for occupations, this is probably also partially explained by the fact that ‘second-generation immigrants’ tend to be younger and more educated than the native population taken as a whole. Nevertheless, it is quite a positive sign in terms of integration of ‘second-generation immigrants’.

Regarding the analysis over time ‘manufacturing’ and ‘construction’ were the only two activities for which the share of employed persons significantly decreased among all migration statuses. This general tendency was in line with the turmoil caused by the global financial and economic crisis of 2008 and may also be partly explained by the structural change of European economies towards more third-sector activities together with the removal/outsourcing of some production activities. On the other hand, ‘professional’ and ‘education’ activity sectors presented the highest increases in the shares of employed persons between 2008 and 2014 (a little over 1 pp for immigrants, regardless of the generation, and around 0.6 pp for ‘native-born with native background’). For ‘first-generation immigrants’, there was an important increase (+ 2.3 pp) of the proportion employed in ‘activities of households as employers’. Except for this, and slightly higher decreases of the proportions employed in ‘manufacturing’ for both migrant generations compared with the natives, the trends in time were rather similar for the three groups.

Looking at ‘first-generation immigrants’ and comparing the shares of employed persons with and without ‘EU origins’, the biggest differences among various economic activities were recorded in ‘construction’ and ‘manufacturing’. Here, immigrants of ‘EU origins’ presented higher shares by 3 pp (see Table 3). These two activity sectors were also two of the largest, and the only ones to have decreased from 2008 to 2014. ‘First-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’ were also more likely than those of ‘non-EU origins’ to be employed in the ‘professionals’ sector (5.9 % as opposed to 4.5 %). The situation was the opposite in 2014 for the ‘human health and social work’, ‘accommodation and food service’, ‘wholesale and retail’ and ‘activities of households as employers’ activity sectors, in which the shares were significantly higher for non-EU immigrants by around 2 pp.

As can be seen in Table 4, in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland the most common activity sector of a ‘first-generation immigrant’ worker was ‘manufacturing’.

Hungary was the only Member State where ‘wholesale and retail’ ranked first, and only Italy, Latvia, Lithuania and Luxembourg did not have it in their top three activity sectors. It was the second most common activity sector for ‘first-generation immigrants’ to be employed in the overall EU aggregate.

France, Sweden and the United Kingdom were the EU Member States where it was more likely for ‘first-generation immigrants’ to work in ‘human health and social work activities’. The high number of immigrants in France and the United Kingdom placed this activity sector in third place within the EU aggregate.

The ‘activities of household as employers’ were the most common for ‘first-generation immigrants’ in Spain and Cyprus, and the second most common in Italy. Greece and Malta had the greatest share of their foreign-born immigrants working in ‘accommodation and food activities’ — linked to the importance of the tourist sector in these economies.

Luxembourg’s situation was particular among EU Member States with its top three activities reflecting the predominance of its specific and specialised economy: ‘financial and insurance activities’, ‘activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies’ and ‘professional’ activities.


Self-employed persons work in their own business or professional practice; in 2014, they made up 18.9 % of the employed EU ‘native-born with native background’ population — the highest value among the five migration statuses being analysed (see Figure 4). ‘Second-generation immigrants’ were the group least likely to be self-employed (ranging from 14.6 % for those of ‘EU origins’ to 11.5 % for those with both parents born outside the EU). The self-employment share of ‘first-generation immigrants’ was also higher among immigrants of ‘EU origins’ (16.7 %) than among those of ‘non-EU origins’ (15.5 %).

Since 2008, there has been a general tendency towards an increasing share of self-employment, ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ presenting the largest increase (from 14.0 % in 2008 to 15.5 % in 2014) while for ‘second-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ only a slight increase (+0.2 pp) was observed.

Breaking down this analysis by EU Member State highlights mostly small differences between the different immigrant statuses (see Table 5). Self-employment rates in the immigrant and native-born populations were often very similar. They did however differ more substantially in a few countries, such as Greece (for both ‘first-generation’ and ‘second-generation immigrants’), Italy and Cyprus (‘first-generation immigrants’), where immigrants had much lower self-employment rates than the ‘native-born population with native background’. On the other hand, the self-employment rate of non-EU ‘first-generation immigrants’ in Hungary was double that of the native population with a native background (23.3 % versus 11.1 %).

Differences between ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’ and ‘non-EU origins’ were the largest in Belgium (+ 6.1 pp) and Cyprus (+ 5.2 pp). In all other countries, the share of self-employment varied by at most 3.8 pp between ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’ and ‘non-EU origins’. In Hungary, on the other hand, the self-employment rate of ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ was higher than for their counterparts of ‘EU origins’ (11.6 pp). This was also the case in Finland (2.4 pp), Italy (1.5 pp) and Sweden (0.3 pp).

Caution must be taken when analysing these differences at national level, as in many cases the self-employed sub-populations of migrants referred to are extremely small.

Temporary contracts

In 2014, 11.9 % of the EU employees who were ‘native-born with native background’ had a temporary contract, meaning that their main job would terminate after a pre-defined period, or after the completion of a given task (see Figure 5). This value was only lower in the case of ‘second-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’ (10.8 %). For ‘second-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ the share of employees with temporary contracts was 13.0 % while in the case of ‘first-generation immigrants’, the values were 14.9 % for those of ‘EU origins’ and peaked at 17.0 % for those of ‘non-EU origins’. Regardless of the generation, immigrants of ‘non-EU origins’ were more likely than those of ‘EU origins’ to hold temporary employment contracts. It should be noted that ‘first-generation immigrants’, regardless of their origin, were more likely to have a temporary employment contract as opposed to ‘second-generation immigrants’ or ‘native-born with native background’.

From 2008 to 2014, there was a slight increase in the share of temporary contracts among ‘native-born with native background’ employees, while there were contradictory trends among the immigrant groups. The outcome was more positive in the case of ‘first-generation immigrants’, given the decrease in the share of temporary contracts. The opposite was true for ‘second-generation immigrants’, for whom the proportion of those having a temporary contract increased from 10.7 % to 10.8 % (‘EU origins’) and from 12.5 % to 13.0 % (‘non-EU origins’). Although the trend is positive, amongst first-generation immigrants of non EU origin there is still the highest proportion of temporary contracts amongst employees.

At Member State level, the share of temporary contracts among ‘first-generation immigrants’ tended to be higher than among the ‘native-born with native background’ (see Table 6). In all the countries for which data were available, ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ held temporary contracts more often than the ‘native-born with native background’. This was also generally the case for ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’, except in France and Hungary, where ‘native-born with native background’ held temporary contracts more often.

With the exception of Belgium, lower shares of employees with temporary contract among immigrants were mainly present in Member States where temporary work was also low within the ‘native-born with native background’ population, such as in the Czech Republic, Austria and the United Kingdom. In Spain, Portugal and Croatia, the high rates of temporary contracts within the ‘native-born with native background’ group were also mirrored for the immigrant employee categories.

As seen in Table 6, at an aggregated EU level, ‘first-generation immigrant’ employees of ‘EU origins’ recorded a higher share of temporary contracts in 2014 compared with ‘native-born with native background’. Except for France and Hungary, this was also true at Member State level, and in countries such as Spain, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Italy and Cyprus where the difference between the two groups is quite significant (reaching almost 12 pp in the case of Spain).

In most EU Member States the percentage of ‘first-generation immigrants’ having a temporary contract was considerably higher for those of ‘non-EU origins’ than for those of ‘EU origins’. This was the case for France (+ 8.9 pp), Belgium (+ 6.8 pp), Sweden (+ 6.7 pp) and Luxembourg (+ 6.2 pp). In all other countries for which data were available, the variation was under 5 pp, and in Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria, Spain and Portugal temporary contracts were even more common for ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’ than for those of ‘non-EU origins’.

Part-time work

Part-time employees are persons whose usual working hours are less than the normal working hours. It can be either voluntary (e.g. for family reasons) or involuntary (when the person would like to work more hours but cannot find a suitable contract). This analysis does not distinguish between the two because of sample size limitations.

Figure 6 shows the predominance of part-time work in the EU female population across all immigrant statuses, with differences always exceeding 18 pp compared with the male population. ‘First-generation immigrants’ of both ‘EU origins’ and ‘non-EU origins’ showed the highest rates of part-time employment, reaching over one third in the case of female employees and 6.7 % (‘EU origins’) and 12.7 % (‘non-EU origins’) of male employees in 2014. Among men, the ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ were the category with the highest share of part-time work, which was more than triple that of the native men of native origin. The share of part-time workers amongst employees was higher for ‘second-generation immigrants’ than in the case of ‘native-born with native background’ and lower than amongst ‘first-generation immigrants’. This was the case, regardless of the gender, with the exception of men whose both parents have 'non-EU origin' and accounted for the second highest share of part-timers. Also, regardless of the gender and the generation, the proportion was higher amongst immigrants of ‘non-EU origins’ than those of ‘EU origins’. Given these patterns, it is likely that the share of the employees working part-time who are not in this situation by choice is higher in the case of immigrants, particularly when they only have ‘non-EU origins’.

The prevalence of part-time work increased in all categories except for ‘native-born with native background’ and ‘second-generation immigrant’ women of ‘EU origins’, for which it decreased. The gender gap showed diverging trends, as it increased for 'second-generation immigrants' of 'non-EU' origin ( by 10 pp) and ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’ (for which it increased by 1.1 pp), while it decreased for the other categories. The decrease was significant especially for the ‘second-generation' with 'non-EU origins’ (from 29.3% to 21.4%).

The average value of 13.2 % part-time employees in the total number of EU employees with native background was composed of quite diverse situations at Member State level. The share among the ‘native-born with native background’ population in Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria and the United Kingdom exceeded 20 %, while in quite a few EU Member States it was lower than 5 % (Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia and Poland).

This difference was usually also reflected in the shares of part-time employees in the immigrant groups. In total, one in every five EU ‘first-generation immigrant’ had a part-time job in 2014, while in Belgium, Italy, Spain and Austria it was at least one in every four (see Table 7). In Cyprus, Slovenia, Croatia and the Czech Republic, under 10 % of non-EU ‘first-generation immigrants’ were part-time employees. In seven of the Member States where data were available, the share of part-time work among employees was higher among ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’, with Austria and Cyprus presenting the highest gaps (5.5 pp and 5.3 pp, respectively). In the other five EU Member States where data were available, ‘foreign-born immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ held higher shares, with the highest differences recorded in the United Kingdom (7.4 pp) and Italy (4.3 pp). The gaps between ‘first-generation immigrants’ and the natives were especially high in Greece (reaching 15 pp), Spain and Italy.

With a few exceptions (notably the United Kingdom and those with no EU-born parent in Belgium), ‘second-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ work part-time to a larger extent than ‘native-born with native’ background, the gap being particularly large in the case of Spain (10.6 pp).

Atypical working time

Employees performing evening, night, Saturday or Sunday work and/or shift work are defined as having atypical working schedules. For this particular indicator, the differences between the immigrant statuses were not very significant. In all migration statuses, men were more likely than women to have atypical working schedules, with shares varying from 50.3 % (‘second-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’) to 54.4 % (‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’). Female rates varied from 39.9 % in ‘second-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ to 49.5 % in ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ (see Figure 7) [4]. Nevertheless, both male and female ‘first-generation immigrants’, (of both origins), were slightly more likely to have this kind of schedule.

From 2008 to 2014, there was a general increase in the share of employees with atypical working hours, with the exception of ‘second-generation immigrant’ women of ‘non-EU origins’. The gender gap also increased between 2008 and 2014, with the exception of ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’. This was because the increase affected men to a larger extent than women — it was higher by 5 pp for all the groups except for ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’.

Looking into the differences at Member State level in the share of employees with atypical working time, the highest shares (over 70 %) were registered among EU ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘EU origins’ in Croatia (87.2 %) and ‘second-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ (76.0 %) in Greece (see Table 8).

The EU as a whole presented higher shares for ‘first-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ than for those of ‘EU origins’. This was not the case for some EU Member States, such as the United Kingdom, Croatia and Poland, where larger shares were found in the ‘EU origins’ groups.

Method for finding a job

‘Relatives, friends or acquaintances’, ‘contacted employer directly’ and ‘advertisements via any channel’ were mentioned as the most frequent methods of finding a job by employees of all migration statuses.

‘First-generation immigrants’ were much more likely to find a job through informal channels such as ‘relatives, friends or acquaintances’ (39.7 % compared with 29.8 % of ‘native-born with native background’ and 25.4 % of ‘second-generation immigrants’). ‘Private employment agencies’ were also a more likely method used by ‘first-generation immigrants’ than by the other two groups (7.7 %, as opposed to 4.1 % for the ‘native-born with native background’).

On the other hand, this group was much less likely to find a job by ‘contacting the employer directly’ (19.0 % of them did so, compared with 25.5 % of those belonging to the ‘second-generation’ and 28.4 % of the ‘native-born with native background’).

Generally, as it was the case for other indicators as well, the method used by ‘second-generation immigrants’ for finding a job was more similar to that used by ‘native-born with native background’ than to that used by ‘first-generation immigrants’ (see Figure 8). As such, there was a general tendency for ‘native-born with native background’ and ‘second-generation immigrants’ to use more formal channels (such as ‘contacting the employer directly’, using ‘public employment offices’ and applying via web) while for the ‘first-generation immigrants’ private agencies and informal channels (relatives and friends) were more likely to be used for finding the current job.

Data sources and availability

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is the largest household sample survey carried out in the EU-28 which provides detailed quarterly and annual data on employment, unemployment and economic inactivity of persons aged 15 and over. Within the set of core variables (collected at least once a year), the LFS includes every year a set of different supplementary variables that constitute an ad hoc module (AHM) on a specific labour market issue.

2008 LFS Ad-hoc module

In 2008 the topic of the LFS Ad-hoc module was the ‘Labour market situation of immigrants and their immediate descendants’, and it contained a list of 11 variables defined in Regulation (EC) No 102/2007. It was carried out by all EU Member States as well as Norway and Switzerland. The data collected within this module included the country of birth of the father and of the mother, allowing second-generation immigrants to be identified. In addition, information was collected on the main reason for migration, legal barriers on access to the labour market, qualifications and language issues.

The module consists of 11 variables. However since there were several Member States with small populations of immigrants (see Migration and migrant population statistics) it was decided that for 13 Member States the last seven variables were optional. This concerned the following countries: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Finland.

The target population of the AHM was all persons aged 15 to 74 (although in the present article the analysis was centred on the 25–54 age group). Data for France did not include the overseas departments (DOM). The data on educational attainment used the ISCED 1997 classification.

2014 LFS Ad-hoc module

Seven years later a second ad hoc module on the ‘Labour market situation of immigrants and their immediate descendants’ was carried out. It aimed at comparing the situation on the labour market for ‘first-generation immigrants’, ‘second-generation immigrants’ and ‘native-born’, and further analysed the factors affecting the integration in and adaptation to the labour market.

The target population changed from 15–74 in 2008 to 15–64 in 2014, as there was a lot of missing information for the older respondents in 2008. The module was not collected by Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany (although some aggregate estimations are available for the latter based on a different data source). ‘Country of birth of father’, ‘country of birth of mother’ and also ‘main reason for migration’ were variables present in both years, allowing some comparisons within both data sets, taking into account the limitations caused by the difference in coverage and methodologies mentioned above.

For the purpose of this publication, in some cases, variables from the core LFS were used to obtain comparable data. Aggregate figures for the EU level are calculated by averaging the available national figures, without imputing the missing countries (Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and in some cases Germany).

Activity, employment and unemployment rates

Please see the methodology page of the LFS for full definitions of the rates.

For more information on each of the ad hoc modules please see section methodology/metadata.


There is high political and scientific interest in comparative information on the labour market situation of immigrants. This set of comprehensive and comparable data on the labour market situation of immigrants and their immediate descendants is aimed at monitoring progress on the labour market situation of immigrants, to analyse the factors affecting their integration and adaptation to the labour market. The policy background for the AHM 2014 can be traced on the following EU documents:

  • The Zaragoza Declaration, adopted in April 2010 by EU Ministers responsible for immigrant integration issues, and approved at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 3–4 June 2010. It calls upon the Commission (Eurostat and DG HOME) to do a pilot study in order to study common integration indicators, from harmonised data sources.
  • The publication ‘EUROPE 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’, outlining three mutually reinforcing objectives of smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth. It has a strong focus on employment, stressing the need for increasing labour market participation, with more and better jobs as essential elements of Europe’s socio economic model.
  • The Commission Communication of 20 July 2011Commission Communication of 20 July 2011 on the ‘European Agenda for the Integration of Third Country Nationals’, which focuses on enhancing the economic, social and cultural benefits of migration in Europe and on achieving immigrants’ full participation in all aspects of collective life.
  • The Commission Communication of 18 November 2011 on ‘The Global Approach to Migration and Mobility’, which sets out the Commission’s adapted policy framework on migration as part of a renewed Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM).

See also

Further Eurostat information

Data visualisation



Labour market (labour)
Employment and unemployment (Labour Force Survey) (employ)
LFS ad-hoc modules (lfso)
2014. Migration and labour market (lfso_14)
2008. Labour market situation of immigrants (lfso_08)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

The data collected by Eurostat comes from the 2014 Labour Force Survey (LFS) ad-hoc module on the ‘Labour market situation of immigrants and their immediate descendants’. The previous 2008 LFS Ad-hoc module on the ‘Labour market situation of immigrants’ was also used to compare the data overtime. All EU averages for 2014 do not include data for Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands, as these countries did not collect the Ad-hoc module, while some of the figures also exclude data for Germany. This difference in coverage, but also other methodological dissimilarities between the two data collections are to be taken into account when comparing 2008 and 2014 data.

The population is divided into three main ‘migration status’ groups, based on country of birth of the respondent and of their parents:

  • ‘Native-born with native background’;
  • ‘Second-generation immigrants’ (native-born population with at least one foreign-born parent);
  • ‘First-generation immigrants’ (foreign-born population).

In the case of the ‘second-generation immigrant’ population a further breakdown by whether both parents are born abroad (‘second-generation foreigners’) or only one of them (‘mixed second-generation’) is provided.

For migrant population we further looked into their ‘EU’ or ‘non-EU origins’. Thus, the population of ‘first-generation immigrants’ is divided according to country of birth of respondent into ‘first-generation immigrants’ born in another EU country (i.e. ‘EU origins’) and ‘first-generation immigrants’ born outside the EU (i.e. ‘non-EU origins’). For the population of ‘second-generation immigrants’, as they all are born in the reporting country that automatically belongs to the EU, their origins are based on country of birth of their parents. Thus, the group has been split into ‘second-generation immigrants’ with ‘EU origins’ (at least one parent is born in the EU, including in the reporting country) and ‘second-generation immigrants’ of ‘non-EU origins’ (both parents are born outside the EU) (see Figure 1).

The main focus of the article is to compare labour market outcomes for the five sub-groups resulting from these divisions (see Figure 1):

  • native-born with native background;
  • second-generation immigrants of EU origins;
  • second-generation immigrants of non-EU origins;
  • first-generation immigrants born in another EU country;
  • first-generation immigrants born outside of the EU.

The analysis focuses on the 25–54 age group, with the aim of excluding migration related to non-economic reasons such as study and retirement. This also reduces the effect of different age structures of the three main migration status groups. In the particular case of unemployment, the age group 15–29 is also taken into account given the significance of this indicator for the young active population. The analysis includes the three main labour market indicators (employment rate, activity rate and unemployment rate) and also contains breakdowns by gender and educational attainment.

Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)

Other information

  • COM (2004) 811 Green Paper on an EU approach to managing economic migration
  • COM (2005) 669 Communication from the Commission — Policy Plan on Legal Migration
  • COM (2006) 402 Communication from the Commission on Policy priorities in the fight against illegal immigration of third-country nationals
  • COM (2007) 512 Communication from the Commission — Third Annual Report on Migration and Integration
  • COM (2008) 611 Communication from the Commission — Strengthening the global approach to migration: increasing coordination, coherence and synergies
  • COM (2010) 171 Communication from the Commission — Delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe's citizens — Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme

External links


  1. The occupation group ‘Armed forces’ (code 0) is not mentioned in this analysis due to methodological limitations of its low coverage, therefore the classification in the next paragraph refers only to ISCO codes 1–9.
  3. See the Statistics Explained article ‘First and second-generation immigrants - statistics on main characteristics’.
  4. The analysis of the data on atypical working hours must take into account the limitations of the often small sample sizes (especially in countries with small share of immigrant population).