Best of Times, Worst of Times, and Occupational Mobility: The Case of Soviet Immigrants in Israel



This article compares the incorporation of two groups of immigrants from the former Soviet Union into the Israeli labour market.

The first group arrived in Israel in 1979 and the second group arrived in 1990. The first period was characterized by a small number of immigrants (best of times), and the second period was characterized by mass migration (worst of times).

Using data sets assembled by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, labour force status of the two groups in Israel were examined four years after arrival (1983 and 1994, respectively). We found no difference in rate of labour force participation but considerable differences in the rate of occupational mobility between the two groups of immigrants.

Specifically, the data reveal that immigrants were able to find employment in both periods. However, during periods of mass migration, recent immigrants had experienced higher rates of downward occupational mobility and greater loss of occupational status.