The inclusion of immigrants in local labor markets is a complex process that is influenced by the local labor market’s structural and individual characteristics, social networks and migratory projects. We test the contrasting assimilation hypothesis with the segmented assimilation hypothesis and verify the presence of ethnic penalties among immigrants who originate from specific countries/areas. We use data from the Continuous Survey on the Italian Labor Forces to compare the levels of employment and the conditions of immigrants with natives in the Italian labor market in 2010. Subsequently, we focus on the main determinants of time-related underemployment and underqualified employment. The results show that immigrants assume higher risks than native Italians of experiencing the worst conditions. The results also suggest that the segmented assimilation theory applies to the Italian case. Given the existing geographical gradient in the Italian productive system, the economic sector of employment plays an important role in the working conditions that affect men and women differently. Immigrants are unable to improve their occupational situation over time, and the gap between their educational levels and employment positions persists. Moreover, the risk to be “trapped” in underqualified employment is amplified for immigrants who originate from specific countries/areas, which suggests the presence of ethnic penalties.


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