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The covid-19 crisis affects employment inequality between immigrants and natives

Jacobo Muñoz Comet, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED)

In the great majority of advanced democracies, the immigrant population achieves worse employment outcomes than the native population. However, according to the specialised literature, the inequality between natives and those born abroad tends to disappear as time passes in the host society. The covid-19 crisis in Spain arrived with the immigrant population more firmly rooted than in the Great Recession of 2008. Despite this, the impact of the pandemic on unemployment has again been harder on those born abroad, especially immigrant women.
Key points
  • 1
       From the onset of the covid-19 crisis, in Spain the increase in unemployment has been more pronounced for immigrants than for natives. This has given rise to an increase in inequality between the two groups: in one year the divide has widened from 6.7 to 10 percentage points.
  • 2
       In 2020, the gap between immigrant and native women reached a width that matched the worst years of the Great Recession of 2008. This is due in part to the fact that during the economic recovery the low levels of inequality recorded in 2007 were never regained.
  • 3
       The impact of covid-19 on the rise in inequality has been slightly more moderate than in the crisis of 2008, although this difference appears to be only partly explained by the consolidation of the immigrant population in Spain.
  • 4
       A large part of the disadvantage suffered by immigrants in comparison with the native population continues to be related to their employment situation. Particularly noteworthy is the overrepresentation of the immigrant population in temporary, unskilled jobs and sectors subject to changes in the economic cycle.
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