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On The Wage Growth of Immigrants: Israel, 1990-2000

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  • Zvi Eckstein

    (Tel Aviv University and University of Minnesota)

  • Yoram Weiss

    (Tel Aviv University)

Abstract

This paper develops a descriptive methodology for the analysis of wage growth of immigrants that is based on human capital theory. The sources of the wage growth are (1) the rise of the return to imported human capital, (2) the impact of accumulated experience in the host country, and (3) the mobility up the occupational ladder in the host country. The model implies a nonlinear wage function that includes interactions between imported skills and local wage growth. Using data on native Israelis and immigrants from the former Soviet Union of Israel, we estimate wage equations jointly for the two groups. We find that, upon arrival, immigrants receive no return for imported skills. In the ten years following arrival, wages of highly skilled immigrants grow at 8 percent a year. Rising prices of skills, occupational transitions, accumulated experience in Israel, and an economy-wide rise in wages account for 3.4, 1.1, 1.5, and 1.5 percent each. In the long run, the return for schooling converges to 0.027, substantially below the 0.069 return for natives. We do not reject the hypothesis that the return for experience converges to that of natives and that immigrants receive a higher return for their unmeasured skills. We find that there is some downgrading in the occupational distribution of immigrants relative to that of natives. Moreover, the average wages of immigrants approach but do not converge to the wages of comparable natives. The main reason for this is the low return to their imported skills. (JEL: J24, J31, J60) Copyright (c) 2004 The European Economic Association.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.

Volume (Year): 2 (2004)
Issue (Month): 4 (06)
Pages: 665-695

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:2:y:2004:i:4:p:665-695

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  1. LaLonde, Robert J & Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Immigrants in the American Labor Market: Quality, Assimilation, and Distributional Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 297-302, May.
  2. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-19, December.
  3. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  4. Caballe, Jordi & Santos, Manuel S, 1993. "On Endogenous Growth with Physical and Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 1042-67, December.
  5. Farber, Henry S & Gibbons, Robert, 1996. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1007-47, November.
  6. Weiss, Y. & Sauer, R.M. & Gotlibovski, M., 1999. "Immigration, Search and Lost of Skill," Papers 26-99, Tel Aviv.
  7. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
  8. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  9. Alan Blinder & Yoram Weiss, 1974. "Human Capital and Labor Supply: A Synthesis," Working Papers 435, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. George J. Borjas, 1998. "The Economic Progress of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 6506, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Cohen-Goldner, Sarit & Eckstein, Zvi, 2002. "Labour Mobility of Immigrants: Training, Experience, Language and Opportunities," CEPR Discussion Papers 3412, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
  13. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-89, October.
  14. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
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