Trapped in precariousness? Risks and opportunities of female immigrants and natives to transition from part-time jobs in the Spanish labour market

Jacobo Muñoz-Comet, UNED
Stephanie Steinmetz, University of Amsterdam

This article aims to examine in how far female immigrant and native part-timers have the same opportunities and risks in terms of job transitions. In particular, we study the probability of moving from a part-time job to a full-time job, to unemployment or to inactivity. To do so, we use panel data from the Spanish Labour Force Survey between 2008 and 2016. The first preliminary results show that our assumption holds, that with a decline in working hours also the job prospects get worse. Although this pattern is common for both immigrants and natives, we find ethnic gaps along the working hour distribution. On the one hand, female Spaniards in marginal part-time employment are more likely to leave the labour force than foreign-born workers, whereas those employed in short part-time work are less likely to move to full-time jobs. These penalties can be explained by a negative selection of native old-employees. On the other hand, the higher the working hours, the larger the immigrant disadvantage in terms of avoiding unemployment and inactivity. The overrepresentation in the secondary segment of the labour market explains their higher insecurity in the substantial part-time work. Finally, differences in education, family context, and period have little influence on the ethnic gaps found.

The increase of non-standard employment, likepart-time work, has taken place in most developed countries (Kalleberg, 2000;Barbieri, 2009; OECD, 2014). Part-time work is one of the most widespread formsof non-standard work, especially common among female workers. Although itallows for a reconciliation of family and working life, it has fundamentaldrawbacks, such as lower hourly wage. Moreover, this type of work is usuallylocated at the bottom of the occupational structure, offers poorer labour conditions(associated with higher instability), and fewer chances for promotion (De Gripet al., 1997; Kalleberg, 2003) and on-the-job training (Evertsson, 2004). However,there are also differences within part-time work. For instance, workers ofmarginal part-time (i.e. less than 15 hours) are not subject to unemploymentinsurance, health insurance or the statutory pension scheme.

Also in Spain, part-time employment, especially amongwomen, has steadily increased during the great recession. However, what remainsunclear so far is whether the consequences of part-time work are the same fornative and immigrant women. In general we assume that with a decline in workinghours job prospects become worse, either through more labour insecurity(transitions to non-employment) or reduction in the opportunities (getting afull-time employment). In this regard, it is possible that the chances (transitioningto full-time work) and risks (transitioning to unemployment or inactivity) arethe same for immigrant and native women (H0) across theworking hours. On the other side, it could also be that an ethnic gap occursthroughout the continuum of working hours or for parts of it (H1).Against this background, the article aims to examine in how far femaleimmigrant and native part-timers have the same opportunities and risks in termsof job transitions (probability of moving from a part-time job to a full-timejob, to unemployment or to inactivity).

For this work, we usepooled panel data from the Spanish Labour Force Survey (SLFS, 2008-2016),carried out quarterly by the National Institute of Statistic since 1976.TheSLFS is conducted to 65,000 households, collecting information on approximately170,000 people. Given that each household remains in the survey for a maximum ofsix quarters, it is possible to follow the individual trajectories along oneyear and a half. The sample of this study is composed by native and immigrantfemale employees (aged 20-54) from 2008 until 2016. The foreign-born sample isrestricted to immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe1and Africa. Tostudy the transitions to unemployment and to inactivity we include all theemployees who work between 1 and 50 hours per week, resulting in a sample of492,453 individuals. In order to study the transitions to full-time employment,our second sample only consists of female part-time workers (118,068individuals). The transitions studied in this paper are those between twoconsecutive quarters of the SLFS, i.e. the time between the interview (t0) andthree months later (t1). To model these transitions and to estimate the probabilityof becoming unemployed, inactive and full-time working different logisticregression models are estimated. To compare results across models and ease thesubstantive interpretation of the coefficients, we calculate the predictedmargins.

In order to provide anoverview of the incidence of part-time work in Spain among female workers,Figure 1 displays the evolution of working time between 2008 and 2016. Based onthe definition of the International Labour Organization we distinguish betweenthe following types of part-time work: ‘substantial part-time’ (21–34 hours perweek); ‘short part-time’ (20 hours or less); and ‘marginal part-time’ (fewerthan 15 hours per week). Figure 1 shows that over time, in particular short andmarginal part-time work have increase among women. And that it these types ofnon-standard work are more common among immigrant women. The question however is in how far the observed ethnic gap for shortand marginal part-time work can be considered a trap for immigrant women, orwhether they are able to transition to a more stable ‘full-time’ job.

The first preliminary results show that our assumptionholds, that with a decline in working hours also the job prospects get worse(Figure 2). Although this pattern is common for both immigrants and natives, wefind ethnic gaps along the working hour distribution. On the one hand, female Spaniardsin marginal part-time employment are more likely to leave the labour forcethan foreign-born workers, whereas those employed in short part-time workare less likely to move to full-time jobs. These penalties can be explained bya negative selection of native old-employees. On the other hand, the higher theworking hours, the larger the immigrant disadvantage in terms of avoiding unemploymentand inactivity. The overrepresentation in the secondary segment of the labourmarket explains their higher insecurity in the substantial part-timework. Finally, differences in education, family context, and period have littleinfluence on the ethnic gaps found.

 

 

Presented in Session 1150: Economics, Human Capital, and Labour Markets