Out now — No Sign of Increased Ethnic Discrimination during a Crisis: Evidence from the Covid-19 Pandemic

At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s been an increase in hate-crime again Asians in many countries around the world. Some identified more negative attitudes against immigrants — a classic case of what is known as scapegoating.

In this article, just out at the Socio-Economic Review, we wanted to know if scapegoating and discrimination of minorities is a defining feature of crises. That’s what social theory argues. In the present case, we wanted to know if ethnic discrimination increased, too — the actual (and consequential) behaviour where minorities are invited less often to view apartments they want to rent. To do so, we replicated a field experiment in the Swiss housing market at the beginning of the pandemic.

Overall, we find no evidence of increased discrimination against the most important immigrant groups in Switzerland. When digging deeper, we found that uncertainty in the housing market was important. Rather than excluding immigrants more often, proprietors and rental agencies seem to have changed their selection behaviour and focus on different signals or markers of solvency and reliability: Instead of ethnicity/minority status, now immigrants with highly skilled jobs were at an advantage.

We conclude that crises do not necessarily increase discriminatory behaviour in market situations.

Auer, Daniel, Didier Ruedin, and Eva Van Belle. 2023. ‘No Sign of Increased Ethnic Discrimination during a Crisis: Evidence from the Covid-19 Pandemic’. Socio-Economic Review. DOI: 10.1093/ser/mwac069

Call for Papers: Migrants’ skills wastage in the labor market: a multidisciplinary approach for policy formation

The call for our special issue on brain waste is now official: https://www.springer.com/journal/11205/updates/20219924

Deadline for submissions is 31 July 2022

The topic of migrants’ skills wastage has generated a sizable but scattered body of research spanning economics, demography, sociology, law, and other social sciences over the past few years (Griesshaber and Seibel 2015; Flisi et al. 2017; Leuven and Oosterbek 2011; Pecoraro 2014; Capsada-Munsech 2017; Klink 2008; Zhou et al. 2016). While the topic is interdisciplinary by nature, recent work has been disciplinary, generating field-specific hypotheses, data, methods and applications, to the detriment of interdisciplinary links and policy debate. The risk of continuing on the current trend is that specialist disciplinary lines will not only progressively depleting the benefit of informing and generating new knowledge by studying an effectively interdisciplinary phenomenon but generate policy recommendations that only cater for a partial aspect of the problem. In an extreme scenario, they risk becoming irrelevant.

The objective of this special issue is to produce a reference resource which consolidates the existing research body, summarises key insights across several disciplines, and provide a firm foundation for continued interdisciplinary dialogue aimed at unifying knowledge for policy debate and policy formulation.

Specifically with this call for papers, we seek to consolidate research findings from different disciplines on migrants’ skills wastage. This includes the study of topics such as over-education, the international transferability of human capital, statistical or outright discrimination in the labour market and within firms, migration policy, and methodological approaches addressing the self-selection that characterises the choice to migrate and enter the labour market of the host country.

At the same time, we seek novel approaches that unite different perspectives and allow a continuation of interdisciplinary research on the topic, with the objective of providing clear information for policy use. Examples could include, but no be limited to, topics such as the spatial dimensions associated with the under-use of human capital, inter-generational and household effects of experiencing skills under-use (especially educational choices of children whose parents experience skills mismatches), the development of new databases, methodologies or variables, and migration policy considerations from both sending and receiving countries with across regions within a country.

Submission portal: www.editorialmanager.com/soci Submission deadline: July 31, 2022

Zhiming Cheng
Wei Guo
Marco Pecoraro
Didier Ruedin
Massimiliano Tani

The impact of Covid-19 on Migration and Transnationalism

Roxanne Gerber and Philippe Wanner have nicely summarized the impact of the first wave of Covid-19 on the Swiss migrant population.

  • effect on labour-market participation similar to general population
  • greater difficulties by entrepreneurs and self-employed
  • greater impact on low-skilled workers
  • international mobility (unsurprisingly) down a great deal — more than twice as many as in 2018 never (could) visit their country of origin

Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration

I am very happy to announce a second paper published from our SNIS project on attitudes to immigrants: “Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration” by Sergi Pardos-Prado and Carla Xena out now in AJPS. It develops some of the key tenets of the SNIS project to new levels and provides a clean application.

Similar to what Marco Pecoraro concluded when looking at the risk of unemployment, Sergi and Carla come to the conclusion that economic competition theories cannot be dismissed. Here they focus on skills specificity and the ability to avoid competition with immigrant workers, and highlight that highly educated people are not immune to anti-immigrant attitudes.

Pardos‐Prado, S., & Xena, C. (2018.). Skill Specificity and Attitudes toward Immigration. American Journal of Political Science, Online First. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12406
Pecoraro, M., & Ruedin, D. (2016). A Foreigner Who Does Not Steal My Job: The Role of Unemployment Risk and Values in Attitudes toward Equal Opportunities. International Migration Review, 50(3), 628–666. https://doi.org/10.1111/imre.12162

Most important academic skill? English!

The other day I was reviewing a paper that looked quite interesting, but unfortunately was written in such poor English that I could not really understand what was going on. I felt sorry for the author(s). I then recalled a recent discussion with a colleague of mine about how important so-called transferable skills are for students: We know that most of them won’t end up in academia, so stuff like critical thinking, structuring an argument, or reading a regression table a are pretty important. Among these, coherent and comprehensible English must rank very high. For those who stay in academia, I’d argue that it’s the most important skill, because it’s central to communicating with other researchers and having your work understood. Only this way can others build on what we do. Ironically, however, teaching English is typically not a focus at universities, if it is done at all. Like so many things, we just kind of assume students (have to figure out how to) do it.

Image: CC-by-nc Moiggi Interactive