The Matching Hierarchies Model: Evidence from a Survey Experiment on Employers’ Hiring Intent of Immigrant Applicants
29 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2016
Date Written: March 19, 2016
Why do immigrants encounter labour market integration difficulties? We propose a model that combines ethnic rankings and occupational rankings to predict who employers are likely to favour for particular occupations (matching hierarchy model). We argue that for jobs that are high on the occupational hierarchy a foreign nationality carries a bad signal due to a high level of social distance. Conversely, at the low end of the occupational hierarchy a Swiss passport conveys a negative signal to employers. We test this model by means of a survey experiment (conjoint analysis) in the hotel sector in Switzerland in 2015. We found that employers’ evaluation of non-nationals follow the patterns suggested by social distance but that a non-native background leads to disadvantage foremost in the higher skilled occupation (receptionist). In the low-skilled occupation, instead having a Portuguese background is actually an advantage. We conclude that to understand disadvantage patterns it is important to be aware of contextual factors (here occupational hierarchies) that may change the nature of nationality-based signals.
Keywords: nationality, statistical discrimination, labour market, occupation, employer, Switzeralnd
JEL Classification: J71, I38
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