Labour Market Integration and Public Perceptions of Immigrants: A Comparison between Germany and Spain During the Economic Crisis

Dirk Godenau, Dita Vogel, Vesela Kovacheva, Yan Wu

Abstract


Since the start of the global economic downturn,GermanyandSpainhave experienced highly-divergent impacts of the crisis on the labour market in general and on immigrant workers in particular. This can be mainly explained by looking at the economic growth patterns prior to the crisis. Spain’s higher, more labour-intensive growth was enabled by growth in the labour supply that was fuelled by immigration and fostered by a de facto permissive immigration policy, while restrictive migration policy prevented growth in labour supply in Germany and encouraged more capital-intensive growth in which both Germans with a low level of skills, and immigrants in particular, found it difficult to integrate. We therefore argue that institutional features of the labour market promoted these patterns. The high level of importance of the temporary and informal labour market segments inSpainwhich were hit hardest by the crisis placed immigrant workers and young workers in a vulnerable position.

The economic crisis has made parts of the population more sceptical about immigration in both countries. However, there appear to be no links between the severity of the crisis and public debates on migration. Although Spain was definitely hit harder by the crisis than Germany, and immigrants were affected more severely, public debates on migration and integration issues seem to be at least as fierce in Germany as in Spain. The legacy of past migrations and migration policies exerts a more significant influence on the public perception of migration as a risk than economic factors do.

Keywords


Immigration; Labour market; Economic crisis; Germany; Spain



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