Migration Impact Assessment

Migration Impact Assessment

New Horizons

New Horizons in Regional Science series

Edited by Peter Nijkamp, Jacques Poot and Mediha Sahin

During the last few decades the world has experienced an unprecedented level of cross-border migration. While this has generated significant socio-economic gains for host countries, as well as sometimes for the countries of origin, the costs and benefits involved are unevenly distributed. Consequently, growing global population mobility is a hotly debated topic, both in the political arena and by the general public. Amidst a plethora of facts, opinions and emotions, the assessment of migration impacts must be grounded in a solid scientific evidence base. This analytical book outlines and applies a range of the scientific methods that are currently available in migration impact assessment (MIA). The book provides various North American and European case studies that quantify socio-economic consequences of migration for host societies and for immigrants themselves.

Chapter 4: Ethnic concentration, cultural identity and immigrant self-employment in Switzerland

Giuliano Guerra, Roberto Patuelli and Rico Maggi

Subjects: development studies, migration, economics and finance, regional economics, valuation, politics and public policy, migration, public policy, social policy and sociology, migration, urban and regional studies, migration, regional economics


Since the 1960s, sociological and economic research on the determinants of ethnic entrepreneurship has attempted to explain why immigrants in advanced economies are more likely to become self-employed than natives, and more generally, why some ethnic groups show higher self-employment rates.1 Early-stage research pointed out that structural factors like ethnic exclusion and discrimination widely contribute to explain why immigrants turn to self-employment (Bonacich, 1973; Wong, 1988). Later on, differences in education and work experience of immigrants have been emphasized. Results hold for many countries, including Australia, Canada and the United States (Reimers, 1983; Evans and Kelley, 1986; Bloom et al., 1995). However, human capital does not provide a full explanation for such remarkable differences. For instance, ecological approaches stressed the importance of factors such as ethnic and cultural diversity, as well as fluency in the host country’s language, in encouraging or displacing business ownership. The academic discussion on ethnic entrepreneurship has gained much more attention after the works of Borjas (1986) and Evans (1989), which shed light on two important results. The first is that immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial in areas where other individuals of the same ethnic group are concentrated. Measured by Borjas as the proportion of foreigners in the total population of US metropolitan areas, the effect of ethnic enclaves on business ownership is positive, suggesting that concentration in specific geographic areas enhances opportunities for immigrants to become self-employed.

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