This paper delves into the effect of social networks on the economic attainment of immigrants. Using data from a survey on personal networks and daily activity spaces of Sri Lankan immigrants in Milan, Italy, our results confirm that access to distant and diverse social circles bear distinct positive effects on immigrants’ socioeconomic attainment. However, the highest benefits in terms of wage income are associated with either high levels of social network integration in the Italian society, or high levels of network segregation within the Sri Lankan community. Moving from having friends which are fully segregated in the Sri Lankan community to friends relatively more integrated is initially costly and becomes more beneficial only after a threshold is reached. This gives evidence to a rational for the persistence of ethnic niches in a decentralized local labour market.
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