Trapped in small business? An investigation of three generations of migrants from Turkey to Western Europe

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This article examines the self-employment behaviour of three generations of migrants from Turkey living in Europe to understand its implications for their economic adaptation into the receiving societies. It specifically investigates the likely generational differences in their propensity to engage in small businesses and the extent to which they are transmitted across generations. The research is based on the 2000 Families Survey, which draws parallel samples of migrant and non-migrant families from their origins in Turkey and traces them across Turkey and Europe over multiple generations. The data are drawn from a subset of personal interviews with 1743 economically active settlers nested within 836 families. The results challenge the assimilation theory but lend support to the disadvantage thesis by demonstrating that the younger generations, including the better educated, are significantly engaged in small, low-status businesses of their parents regardless of their language proficiency, citizenship status and country of residence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1214-1232
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number7
Early online date10 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Peer-reviewed version of full-text, despite template watermark.


  • Ethnic entrepreneurship
  • Intergenerational transmission of small business
  • Migrant entrepreneurship
  • Self-employment
  • Turkish diaspora in Europe


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