Southern European Labour Markets and Immigration: A Structural and Functional Analysis
Subject headingsSouthern Europe ; Greece ; labour forces ; unemployment ; immigration ; illegal immigrants
Southern European countries, the ‘new’ immigration countries of the EU (Baldwin-Edwards and Arango, 1999; King and Black, 1997) have experienced alongside mass illegal immigration either already-high unemployment [Spain] or increasing rates of unemployment [Greece and Italy]. This has led to some speculation that immigrants are competing with native labour forces, and thus creating unemployment. Furthermore, all southern Europe has undertaken legalisation programmes, attempting to minimise the extent of illegal residence and work by immigrants. There has been some limited research done on the effects of government policy, but this has been largely confined to Italy. Greece – the country with the greatest per capita problem of illegal immigration – has made no serious evaluation of its policies and is already proceeding with its second legalisation. The aim of this paper is to identify the structural location and role of immigration in the southern European labour markets, since there is evidence to suggest that the characteristics of immigration into southern Europe are distinct from the well-analysed patterns of the 1960s into northern Europe (Baldwin-Edwards, 1999: 2). First, I summarise the existing knowledge on immigrants and labour markets, with a focus on southern Europe. Then, the idea of a specific southern European labour market is posited, and I outline the common characteristics of the labour force, employment and the labour market itself along with nationally idiosyncratic characteristics. Next, the limited comparative data on immigrant location in southern European labour markets is presented. Finally, a brief evaluation is made of immigration into the southern European labour markets, its functions and patterns of location.