Are immigrants and descendants with ill health more prone to unemployment? Evidence from 18 European countries
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionEthnicity and Health 2016 https://doi.org/10.1080/13557858.2016.1246426
Objective: Previous research has established that both ill health and minority status are associated with unemployment. Less is known, however, about the interplay between having ill health and being from minority background. The present study examines whether immigrants and descendants with ill health are particularly prone to unemployment during an economic downturn in Europe. Design: The European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) cross-sectional data material is utilized, and linear probability models are estimated. The analysis is run for countries in which the two minority samples are acceptably large ( N ≥ 100), resulting in 18 included European countries. The year 2011 is chosen because it is possible to identify both immigrants and descendants in EU-SILC due to a module on intergenerational transfer of disadvantages. Results: The results indicate – as expected – that both ill health and minority status are independently related to higher unemployment likelihood. Immigrants and descendants with ill health, however, are not particularly likely to be unemployed. This finding is robust to a number of sensitivity tests, and the empirical pattern is very similar across the 18 included countries. Conclusion: Both minority status and ill health are associated with high unemployment probability in Europe. However, there does not seem to exist a ‘ double disadvantage ’ for immigrants and descendants with ill health, which is in line with a human capital perspective on how employers evaluate potential employees. Both a non-native-sounding name and bad health status are interpreted as a risk factor, but there is no reason to expect ill health to lower the productivity level more if the applicant is a descendant or immigrant.