Raffaele Guetto Ivana Fellini

Immigrant women's employment patterns. Disentangling the effects of ethnic origin, religious affiliation and religiosity

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Despite the growing consensus that cultural factors contribute to the lower employment rates of immigrant women, an assessment of the impact of religion's different facets is still lacking. By using the Condizione e Integrazione Sociale dei Cittadini Stranieri survey (2011-2012), this article analyses the effects of religious affiliation and the intensity of individual religiosity on immigrant women's labour market participation in Italy. The article also explores whether individual religiosity similarly affects the labour market participation of immigrant women belonging to different religions. Finally, the mechanisms underlying religious effects are investigated. The results show that belonging to Islam and other non-Christian religions is associated with lower probability of work experience both before and after migrating to Italy, even after accounting for the ethnic composition of each religious group. Among the members of the latter religions, a more intense religiosity is negatively associated with the probability of having ever had a job. Religion mostly operates through a higher likelihood of holding traditional gender attitudes and taking traditional family decisions, which act as intervenient factors influencing women's decisions to be economically active. Religious belonging and religiosity are uninfluential on immigrant women's unemployment risks, which are instead predicted by ethnic origin.


  • Immigration
  • Labour Market
  • Ethnic Penalty
  • Religion
  • Female Employment


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