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Country of Origin and Immigrant Earnings: Evidence from 1960-1990

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  • Harriet Orcutt Duleep

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    (Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy, The College of William and Mary)

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    Abstract

    Using 1960-1990 census microdata, this paper presents two analyses that examine how the initial large differences in immigrant earnings by country of origin change with duration in the United States. The first analysis reveals that country of origin adds less to the explanation of earnings among adult male immigrants the longer they reside in the United States. A second complementary analysis reveals a decrease with time in the United States in the earnings dispersion of demographically comparable immigrants across countries of origin. Both results imply convergence in immigrant earnings by country of origin. We further test the sensitivity of these results to emigration bias—a potentially important, though generally ignored problem in studies of immigrant earnings growth. A theoretical analysis assesses the impact of hypothetical patterns of selective emigration on the two convergence results. We then introduce a technique that could be generally applied as an empirical test for emigration bias in immigrant studies. Both the theoretical and empirical analyses suggest that immigrant earnings convergence by country of origin is not an artifact of emigration.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Department of Economics, College of William and Mary in its series Working Papers with number 131.

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    Length: 36 pages
    Date of creation: 17 Mar 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cwm:wpaper:131

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    Keywords: immigration; emigration; human capital investment; skill transferability; assimilation;

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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. Gang, Ira N & Rivera-Batiz, Francisco L, 1994. "Labor Market Effects of Immigration in the United States and Europe: Substitution vs. Complementarity," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 157-75.
    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. Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz, 1992. "English Language Proficiency and the Earnings of Young Immigrants in U.S. Labor Markets," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 11(2), pages 165-175, 06.
    5. Duleep, Harriet & Regets, Mark, 2002. "The Elusive Concept of Immigrant Quality: Evidence from 1970-1990," IZA Discussion Papers 631, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Harriet Duleep & Seth Sanders, 1993. "The decision to work by married immigrant women," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 677-690, July.
    7. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1994. "The Performance of Immigrants in the Canadian Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 369-405, July.
    8. Jaeger, David A, 1997. "Reconciling the Old and New Census Bureau Education Questions: Recommendations for Researchers," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 15(3), pages 300-309, July.
    9. Green, David A, 1999. "Immigrant Occupational Attainment: Assimilation and Mobility over Time," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 49-79, January.
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