Based on the Istat Condizione e Integrazione Sociale dei Cittadini Stranieri survey (2011-2012), the article analyses immigrants’ occupational trajectories in Italy between the last job in the origin country and the first and present job in the destination country. Results show very high risks of occupational downgrade on arrival, since immigrants are channelled in few, gender-specific occupations, independently from the area of origin and the qualification of the occupation held before migrating. Immigrants also face very scant chances of occupational status recovery. Women are at higher risks of occupational downgrade and also experience lower chances of upward mobility, compared to their male counterparts. Immigrants’ occupational trajectories in Italy do not show the U-shaped pattern hypothesised by the assimilation hypothesis. In fact, they are similar to those found in Spain, another country in which immigrants’ occupational downgrade is followed by the entrapment in the secondary segment of the labour market.
Keywords: Immigrants, occupational segregation, occupational mobility, gender inequality, labour market segmentation, Italy.