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The economic activity of foreign population in Spain: between complementarity and exclusion

Andreu Domingo, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
Rene Houle, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

This paper deals with the economic activity of foreign population in Spain. We use the data from the last census of 2001. The recent increase of foreign population in Spain derives from a growing demand of labour due to the aging of the Spanish labour force, the increase in education attainment of younger generations and the higher economic participation of women. These three factors lead to a demand for foreign labour with a clear complementary function, as foreigners are over-represented in some specific sectors of activity (domestic work, agriculture, tourism and construction). But at the same time, this situation is also one of exclusion for them due to the existence of a segmented labour market. Immigrants are thus often confined to the worst employment positions in low-wage and low-productivity sectors of the economy, even though they may have higher diplomas compared with Spanish workers in the same professions.

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Presented in Session 32: International migration and employment