Immigrants’ inclusion model in the Italian labor market has been described as a "low unemployment, bad jobs" equilibrium. This article investigates immigrant/native gaps in earnings by analyzing a dataset which joins the ad hoc survey "Earnings and living conditions of foreign-born families" (2009) and the Istat IT-Silc (2009). In line with previous literature on occupational attainment, we find that the gap between natives and immigrants is largest among highly-educated workers. For this group, immigrant penalties remain significant after controlling for socio-demographic and job-related characteristics, also for those who obtained the formal recognition of their educational certificate. Recognition itself has a positive effect on earnings, but only for female workers. The finding that immigrant penalties persist even within occupations can be explained by discriminatory practices and/or adverse selection within the group of highly-educated immigrant workers, due to the structural characteristics of the Italian labor market.
Keywords: Immigration, Educational Credentials, Human Capital, Returns to Education, Labor Market
Jel Code: J31, J24, J61, F22