DP15590 Being on the Frontline? Immigrant Workers in Europe and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Author(s): Francesco Fasani, Jacopo Mazza
Publication Date: December 2020
Date Revised: April 2021
Keyword(s): COVID-19, Employment risk, key occupations
JEL(s): F22, J20, J61
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15590

We provide a first timely assessment on the labour market impact of COVID--19 on immigrant workers in Europe. We propose a novel measure of individual exposure to employment risk that combines information on four occupation characteristics: the role of workers' occupations in the response to the pandemic, the contractual protection they enjoy, the possibility of performing their job from home and the resilience of the industry in which they are employed. We show that our measure of employment risk closely predicts actual employment losses observed in European countries in 2020. Our measure allows comparing relative employment risk across population groups as well as identifying individual covariates that are associated to higher exposure to risk. We find that: i) migrants -- and Extra EU migrants in particular -- are exposed to a higher risk of unemployment than native workers, even within industries and occupations; ii) young and low educated migrants are those most exposed; iii) female workers face harsher consequences from the pandemic than men. According to our estimates, more than 9.3 million immigrants in the EU14+UK area are exposed to a high risk of becoming unemployed in the COVID--19 recession; 1.3 million of them are facing a very high risk.