Ethnic Enclaves, Networks and Self‐Employment among Middle Eastern Immigrants in Sweden

Date01 December 2015
AuthorMats Hammarstedt,Lina Andersson
Published date01 December 2015
Ethnic Enclaves, Networks and
Self-Employment among Middle Eastern
Immigrants in Sweden
Lina Andersson* and Mats Hammarstedt*
The proportion of immigrants from countries in the Middle East living in Sweden has
increased since the 1970s, and it is a well-known fact that immigrants from the Middle
East suffer from low earnings and high rates of unemployment on the Swedish labour
market. There are often great hopes that self-employment will enable immigrants to
improve their labour market situation. Further, in Sweden as in many other countries,
the question of whether the existence of ethnic enclaves are good or bad for immigrants’
earnings and employment opportunities has also been widely debated. This paper pre-
sents a study of the extent to which Middle Eastern ethnic enclaves and networks in
Sweden enhance or hinder immigrants’ self-employment. The results show that the pres-
ence of ethnic enclaves increases the propensity for self-employment. Thus, immigrants
in ethnic enclaves provide their co-ethnics with goods and services that Swedish natives
are not able to provide. The results also show that ethnic networks seem to be an obsta-
cle to immigrant self-employment. One explanation is that an increase in network size
implies increased competition for customers among self-employed immigrants. The ques-
tion of whether ethnic enclaves are good or bad for the integration of immigrants into
the labour market has been widely debated. The results of this paper provide us with
information about the integration puzzle. Ethnic enclaves seem to enhance self-employ-
ment propensities among Middle Eastern immigrants in Sweden.
Immigrant self-employment has gained increasing interest amongst researchers from several
disciplines in recent years. Several studies have documented high rates of self-employment
among immigrants in different countries; the literature presents several explanations for the
over-representation of immigrants in self-employment compared to natives (Borjas, 1986;
Clark and Drinkwater, 2000; Constant and Zimmermann, 2006; Constant et al., 2007; Fair-
lie, 1999; Fairlie and Meyer, 1996; Fairlie and Robb, 2007; Hammarstedt, 2001; Hammar-
stedt and Shukur, 2009; Hout and Rosen, 2000; Le, 2000; Robb and Fairlie, 2009;
Vinogradov, 2007).
Plausible explanations for high self-employment rates among immigrants can be found in
the existence of ethnic enclaves and networks. Ethnic enclaves create opportunities for
* School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Va
¨, Sweden.
2012 The Authors
International Migration 2012 IOM
International Migration Vol. 53 (6) 2015
Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. ISSN 0020-7985

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT