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Abstract: Previous studies come to contradictory conclusions regarding the relationship between immigrants’ social contacts and their labor market integration. This paper tackles this impasse by exploring the short and long-term effects of social contacts on immigrant labor market outcomes using data collected in the Swedish Level-of-Living survey in 2010. Results from Cox and OLS regressions show that social contacts provide meaningful resources in the initial transition period, but loose importance over time in the host country. The findings moreover reveal substantial heterogeneity by reason for migration. Social contacts provide family related migrants and labor migrants with significant resources in their job search, while social contacts are not able to facilitate labor market entry among refugees. Regarding longer-term integration, earnings differences by social contacts are small. However, compared to other migrants, labor migrants continue to experience an advantage in the labor market. The implications of these findings are that distinguishing between short and long-term integration contributes to our understanding of the association between immigrants’ social contacts and their labor market integration. Moreover, information provided by social contacts assists family related migrants and labor migrants in their job search.
The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working life and Welfare [2016 07105]; the Swedish Initiative for Research on Microdata in Social Science and Medical Sciences: Stockholm University SIMSAM Node for Demographic Research [340-2013-5164]; and the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland