Explaining the Muslim Employment Gap in Western Europe: Individual-Level Effects and Ethno-Religious Penalties

Phillip Connor, Pew Research Center
Matthias Koenig, University of Göttingen

It is well-documented that Muslims experience economic disadvantages in Western European labor markets. However, few studies comprehensively test individual-level explanations for the Muslim employment gap. Using data from the European Social Survey, this research note briefly examines the role of individual-level differences between Muslims and non-Muslims in mediating employment differences. Results reveal that human capital, migration background, religiosity, cultural values, and perceived discrimination jointly explain about 40% of the employment variance between Muslims and non-Muslims. Model specifications for first- and second-generation Muslim immigrants reveal a similar pattern, with migration background and perceived discrimination being of key relevance in mediating employment difference. While individual-level effects are indeed relevant, unexplained variance suggests that symbolic boundaries against Islam may still translate into tangible ethno-religious penalties.

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Presented in Session 19: Diasporas and Ethno-Racial Inequality