Academic journal article Population

Ethnic Origin or Residential Location: Educational Labour Market Attainment of Young People of Immigrant Background in France

Academic journal article Population

Ethnic Origin or Residential Location: Educational Labour Market Attainment of Young People of Immigrant Background in France

Article excerpt

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The labour market situation of young people with immigrant parents in France has become a major focus of research since the 2000s thanks to the availability of new data (Aeberhardt and Rathelot, 2013; Safi, 2013). Numerous studies highlight the severe disadvantages of children of immigrants from the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa compared with French children born to French parents (Meurs et al., 2006). Moreover, while differences in sociodemographic characteristics, level of education or age provide a relatively good explanation for wage differentials, only one-third of the differences in employment rates can be attributed to these factors (Aeberhardt et al., 2010). These observations are confirmed by "discrimination testing" studies which link the ethnic penalties measured in statistical surveys to discrimination on the French labour market (Cédiey et al., 2008; Duguet et al., 2010a, 2010b).

Despite this recent empirical evidence, the French social sciences traditionally analyse these inequalities solely in terms of differences in social environment or educational level. People of immigrant background are thought to be disadvantaged not by their origin (and the hostility that this origin may elicit), but rather by the paucity of their family, economic and social resources. The effect of residential location is central to this approach, and the concentration of these populations in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods is seen as the main explanation for their poor outcomes. While rarely described in detail, the spatial mechanisms evoked in these studies generally refer to unequal geographical distribution of infrastructure, public transport and services, and to territorial disparities in educational resources and teaching quality. In some studies, these spatial inequalities are even seen as the driving force behind the reproduction of socioeconomic inequalities, notably via peer effects or socialization mechanisms sometimes qualified as a "culture of poverty".

However, the study of urban and territorial inequalities has rarely been approached via a combined measure of both ethnic and geographic factors. Recent empirical research suggests that differences in place of residence provide an incomplete explanation for the differentials in employment and unemployment observed between people of different ethnic backgrounds (Gobillon et al., 2014; Rathelot, 2014). Ethnic and geographic dimensions have also been examined jointly in "situation testing" studies (Petit et al., 2014) with the aim of identifying their respective impacts on employer response rates to job applications. While they reveal a form of territorial discrimination, these studies also show that ethnic origin plays a central role.

In this article we use data from the Génération surveys (1998 and 2004) collected by the French Centre for Research on Education, Training and Employment (Centre d'études et de recherches sur les qualifications, CEREQ) to measure the effects of ethnic origin and place of residence on educational and occupational outcomes of young people of immigrant background. These surveys provide one of the rare sources of data for analysing the labour market integration of school leavers. They record respondents' place of residence by infra-communal census district (IRIS),(1) making it possible to include neighbourhood effects in our models. They also enable us to compare the 1998 and 2004 cohorts to analyse changes in the young people's situations over time. The analyses presented here aim to determine how the effect of ethnic origin on educational and labour market outcomes changes after controlling for the geographical dimension in the form of fixed effects introduced at IRIS level.

I. Explaining ethnic inequalities through geographic effects: underlying mechanisms

The effects of place of residence have been measured for a wide range of socioeconomic indicators (Sampson et al. …

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