Discussion papers

CPM-16-234 - 4 October 2016

Can Social Networks Explain Ethnic Labour Market Segmentation?

Ruth Meyer & Huw Vasey

Paper presented at the Social Simulation Conference (SSC 2016), in Rome, September 19-23, 2016.

Abstract. It has been widely reported that post-World War II migration to ‘western’ countries has gone hand-in-hand with the development of ethnically segmented labour markets, particularly in low-skill roles where entry requirements are minimal. Whilst numerous theories have been forwarded as to why such situations occur, it has remained difficult to empirically test such conceptualisations because of the numerous interacting processes, which produce segmentation in the labour market.

In this paper, we attempt to address this issue through the use of an agent-based model inspired by Waldinger & Lichter’s networked explanation for segmentation in low-skilled work in Los Angeles, presented in their seminal book, How the Other Half Works. This work was chosen because the core argument it presents – that social networks have a profound impact on the emergence of labour market segmentation – has been widely cited and supported by scholars working in the fields of international migration and labour market studies.

Keywords. Labour market segmentation, social networks, migration, agent-based modelling