E.g., 04/13/2024
E.g., 04/13/2024
Slow Motion: The Labor Market Integration of New Immigrants in France

France’s labor market can be hostile to new entrants, whether recently arrived immigrants or young people seeking their first jobs. Restrictions on foreign nationals working in the public sector, stringent requirements for certain jobs, and occupational ladders that are difficult to penetrate at later points together effectively cut off many jobs to newly arrived immigrants. Meanwhile, the fact that France has significantly larger proportions of family-driven migration than labor migration has meant that the new arrivals, by virtue of not having been selected because of their skills, often have low educational attainment, which can put them at risk of unemployment.

This report assesses the labor market outcomes of new immigrants to France, based on French Labor Force survey data. The report is part of a series of six case studies on labor market outcomes among immigrants to European Union countries. 

This report is part of a research project funded by the European Union and conducted in collaboration with the International Labour Office. The case studies in this phase of the project consider the influence of individual characteristics and broader economic conditions on the employment prospects of foreign-born workers. The second phase will evaluate the effectiveness of integration and workforce development policies in helping foreign-born workers overcome these barriers and move up into middle-skilled positions that pay a family-sustaining wage. The six case study countries are the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.


This project is funded by the European Union

The report reveals that immigrants who arrived from 2000 onwards fared badly in the first few years after arrival, but improved their labor market outcomes over time. One year after arrival, approximately half of immigrants were active in the labor market, but after nine years in France, their activity rates almost equaled those of native workers. However, their employment rates were more than 10 percentage points lower than native workers in 2011, providing evidence of some persistent structural obstacles to labor market success. 

The analysis finds that migrants' region of origin, level of education, reason for migration, and gender are among the factors that correlate with labor market outcomes. For example, in 2009-11, new immigrants from North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa tended to cluster in low-skilled activities across most sectors of employment; overqualification—having higher credentials than are required for the job—is widespread among this group. In addition, economic conditions also shaped employment outcomes, with longer-standing migrants more insulated from the recession.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Immigration to France

III. The Labor Market Integration of New Arrivals

A. New Immigrants’ Access to Employment

B. Influence of Individual Characteristics on Employment Outcomes

C. Influence of Individual Characteristics on Stability of Work

D. The Impact of the Economic Crisis on Immigrants’ Employment Outcomes

E. Occupational Stratification

F. Sectors of Employment

IV. Conclusions