Abstract: The Impact of Social Networks On The Immigrant Women's Multiple Unemployment Spells (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

137P The Impact of Social Networks On The Immigrant Women's Multiple Unemployment Spells

Saturday, January 16, 2010
* noted as presenting author
Ini Shin, PHD , Case Western Reserve University, Independent Consultant, Richfield, OH
Research Background :

Immigrant women's gender-based network constrains many women from potentially resourceful job contacts that could lead to better paying jobs and ease adaptation to host country. This study specifically addresses the transitional influence of social networks on subsequent unemployment spells based on the research by Granovetter and Burt's interpersonal ties and strengths of a tie. By analyzing the influence of specific social networks, such as informal, formal networks and ethic ties on multiple unemployment spells, we can better understand their economic adaptations and future directions to incorporate them to main society.


This study uses the data from the Three-city study in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio

from years 1999 to 2006 and a limited sample only for immigrant women (N=453) including all foreign-born non citizen as well as naturalized citizens. Human capital, labor market characteristics, as well as social network variables as time varying covariates are analyzed in order to understand their unemployment spells. To correct the problem of duration dependency when we consider multiple unemployment spells, this study uses multivariate failure time model (MFTM). MFTM model allows the baseline hazard function to vary over each event and incorporates robust variance estimates for the correction of standard errors if events are not independent.


Each social network differently contributes to leaving each unemployment spell. Relying on informal networks (based on family or friends) 86.8% of women increased the likelihood of leaving their 2nd unemployment spell and 55.3% reduced the probability of leaving their 3rd unemployment spell. Namely, most immigrant women initially rely on the informal networks to leave unemployment spell, but consideration of formal network is a more important factor to leave their later unemployment spell. Also, relying on ethnic ties strongly affects leaving their 3rd unemployment spells (143.8%). Even though the reliance on ethnic-based social networks has a property of a social closure process rather than the dissemination of information that helps to obtain employment, such a strategy expands the substantial upward mobility as part of a long –term cumulative process. Labor market characteristics (living in a state with high unemployment rates and living in high poverty) reduced the probability of leaving unemployment spell. Living with a partner increased the probability of getting a job by 48.5% while immigration with other family or relative decreased the probability of getting a job by 43.9.

Conclusion and implication:

This study showed the importance of social networks on multiple unemployment spells among immigrant women. Initially, informal networks as an emergent adaptation to host country can increase the chance of leaving unemployment, but formal networks replace their job search method in order to obtain a better job in later unemployment spells.

Ethnic ties are an important media as a bridge tie to connect immigrants host society because the effort of changing jobs may increase the possibility of gradually moving up the occupational ladder through similar jobs among same ethnicity.

Thus, a cooperative approach of each social network is an important variable in understanding current immigrant women's adaptation to U.S. labor market.