Female migrant integration in the labour market

Gender differences in employment rates are larger for migrants than for the native-born population, generating regional disparities in this indicator that are twice as big for migrants than natives.

The participation of migrant women in the labour market is a key element for their social integration and overall well-being. In the OECD, on average, the employment rate of female foreign-born is almost 8 percentage points lower than for female native-born. Only in 14% of the regions, foreign-born women display better or similar outcomes in employment than the female native-born, with the largest differences observed in Campania (Italy), Alaska (United States), North Portugal, and Central Transdanubia (Hungary) (Figure 3.28).

3.28. Female employment rates of the foreign-born, relative to the native-born
Difference between native-born and foreign-born outcomes; large regions (TL2), 2015

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933817865

Gender differences in employment rates reveal the extent to which women are lagging behind in terms of participation in the labour market compared to the male population. Figure 3.29 shows that in practically all regions considered, both the female foreign-born as well as the female native-born populations are underrepresented in the labour market compared, respectively, to foreign- and native-born males. While on average the employment gender gap of the native-born population is 7.6 percentage points, this indicator goes up to 15.5 percentage points for the migrant population.

3.29. Gender employment gap of the foreign- and native-born population
Difference between male and female employment rates; large regions (TL2), 2015

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933817884


The terms “foreign-born” and “migrants” are used interchangeably. Migrants are defined by place of birth. The foreign-born or migrant population is defined as the population born in a country different from the one of residence. Unlike citizenship, this criterion does not change over time, it is not subject to country differences in legislation and it is thus adequate for international comparisons.

The youth employment rate is defined as the ratio between employed persons aged between 15 and 34 and the labour force in the same age class (excluding those in education or training).

The challenges faced by migrant women to participate in the labour market can be very different across places compared to those faced by their native-born peers. For example, regional disparities (the differences between the highest and lowest regional values) in the gender employment gap of migrants are, on average, 14 percentage points, which is 7 percentage points higher than those faced by natives. With the exception of Ireland, Canada, and Switzerland, regional disparities in gender gaps are higher for the foreign-born than for the native-born population. In their respective country, only the regions of Alberta (Canada), Ticino (Switzerland), Eastern Slovenia, and East Middle Sweden, display the highest gender gaps for both the native- and the foreign-born population (Figure 3.29).


OECD (2018), OECD Regional Statistics (database), http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/region-data-en.

See Annex B for data sources and country-related metadata.

Reference years and territorial level

2015; 2014-2015 (two year average) for European countries and US; TL2.

Further information

Territorial grids and regional typology (Annex A)

Diaz Ramirez, M., et al. (2018), “The integration of migrants in OECD regions: A first assessment”, OECD Regional Development Working Papers, No. 2018/01, OECD Publishing, Paris. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/fb089d9a-en.

Figure notes

3.28 and 3.29: Employment rates are expressed as a percentage of their respective gender-age class population.

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