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Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings

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  • Darren Lubotsky

Abstract

I use longitudinal earnings data from Social Security records to study the effect of selective emigration on the measured progress of immigrants to the United States. The immigrant-native earnings gap closes by 10-15 percent during immigrants' first 20 years in the United States, or about half as fast as typical estimates from repeated cross sections of the decennial census. The divergent results indicate that emigration by low-wage immigrants has systematically led past researchers to overestimate the wage progress of immigrants who remain in the United States. Selective back-and-forth migration also leads typical estimates to overstate the measured decline in earnings among successive immigrant arrival cohorts between 1960 and 1980. (c) 2007 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 115 (2007)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 820-867

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:115:y:2007:i:5:p:820-867

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  1. 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.
  2. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1990. "The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 3573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
  5. Powell, James L., 1984. "Least absolute deviations estimation for the censored regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 303-325, July.
  6. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1993. "Trends in Relative Black/White Earnings Revisited," Working Papers 689, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. Geoffrey Carliner, 1996. "The Wages and Language Skills of U.S. Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 5763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1997. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 705-27, September.
  9. Edward Funkhouser & Stephen J. Trejo, 1995. "The labor market skills of recent male immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 792-811, July.
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