The Elusive Concept of Immigrant Quality: Evidence from 1970-1990
AbstractThe labor market "quality" of immigrants is a subject of debate among immigration researchers, and a major public policy concern. However, traditional methods of measuring human capital are particularly difficult to apply to recently arrived immigrants. Many factors that have a negative effect on entry earnings also increase either the incentive or the opportunity for faster human capital investment and earning growth. In addition, many country-of-origin acquired skills that are not immediately valued in the U.S. labor market are useful to the acquisition of U.S. skills. Thus entry earnings are not a good measure of the stock of immigrant human capital. This article presents a model of immigrant human capital investment and, using 1970-1990 census data, presents strong evidence of a systematic and important inverse relationship between initial immigrant earnings and subsequent earnings growth. This result-which persists even after accounting for differences in the immigration flows from different countries, sampling error, and the effects of emigration - is fundamentally different from both earlier cross-sectional estimates and more recent pooled models that constrain cohort growth rates to be equal. Although our model provides theoretical support for an inverse relationship only when source country human capital is held constant, faster earnings growth for low-entry-earnings immigrants is found empirically even when age and education are not controlled for. The immigrant human capital investment model presented here explores general principles that may apply to other labor market transitions that involve skill transferability-including occupational change and labor market reentry.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Economics, College of William and Mary in its series Working Papers with number 138.
Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: 17 Mar 2013
Date of revision:
immigration; migration; human capital investment; skill transferability; assimilation;
Other versions of this item:
- 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).
- J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
- J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Robert F. Schoeni, 1997. "New Evidence on the Economic Progress of Foreign-Born Men in the 1970s and 1980s," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 683-740.
- Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1997.
"Recent Immigrants: Unexpected Implications for Crime and Incarceration,"
NBER Working Papers
6067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Recent immigrants: Unexpected implications for crime and incarceration," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(4), pages 654-679, July.
- John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, September.
- Jacob Mincer & Haim Ofek, 1982. "Interrupted Work Careers: Depreciation and Restoration of Human Capital," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(1), pages 3-24.
- David E. Bloom & Morley Gunderson, 1991. "An Analysis of the Earnings of Canadian Immigrants," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade and the Labor Market, pages 321-342 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David E. Bloom & Morley Gunderson, 1989.
"An Analysis of the Earnings of Canadian Immigrants,"
NBER Working Papers
3035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bloom, D.E. & Gunderson, M., 1989. "An Analysis Of The Earnings Of Canadian Immigrants," Discussion Papers 1989_18, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
- Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- repec:fth:coluec:437 is not listed on IDEAS
- Sherrie A. Kossoudji, 1989. "Immigrant Worker Assimilation: Is It a Labor Market Phenomenon?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 24(3), pages 494-527.
- Serena Huang, 2011. "The international transferability of human capital in nursing," International Journal of Health Care Finance and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 145-163, September.
- Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2007.
"Does immigration affect wages? A look at occupation-level evidence,"
Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 757-773, October.
- Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2003. "Does immigration affect wages? A look at occupation-level evidence," Working Papers 0302, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
- Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2006. "Does Immigration Affect Wages? A Look at Occupation-Level Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 2481, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2003. "Does immigration affect wages? A look at occupation-level evidence," Working Paper 2003-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
- Lin, Carl, 2013. "How Do Immigrants from Taiwan Fare in the U.S. Labor Market?," IZA Discussion Papers 7748, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Arbel, Yuval & Tobol, Yossi & Siniver, Erez, 2012. "Social Involvement and Level of Household Income among Immigrants: New Evidence from the Israeli Experience," IZA Discussion Papers 6416, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Harriet Orcutt Duleep, 2013. "Country of Origin and Immigrant Earnings: Evidence from 1960-1990," Working Papers 131, Department of Economics, College of William and Mary.
- Grenier, Gilles, 2001.
"Immigration, langues et performance économique : le Québec et l’Ontario entre 1970 et 1995,"
Société Canadienne de Science Economique, vol. 77(3), pages 305-338, septembre.
- Grenier, G., 2000. "Immigration, langues et performance economique: le Quebec et l'Ontario entre 1970 et 1995," Working Papers 0006e, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
- George J. Borjas & Rachel M. Friedberg, 2009.
"Recent Trends in the Earnings of New Immigrants to the United States,"
2009-13, Brown University, Department of Economics.
- George J. Borjas & Rachel M. Friedberg, 2009. "Recent Trends in the Earnings of New Immigrants to the United States," NBER Working Papers 15406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Christian Dustmann & Albrecht Glitz, 2011.
"Migration and Education,"
CReAM Discussion Paper Series
1105, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
- Epstein, Gil S. & Gang, Ira N., 2008. "Ethnicity, Assimilation and Harassment in the Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 3591, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Green, David A. & Worswick, Christopher, 2012.
"Immigrant earnings profiles in the presence of human capital investment: Measuring cohort and macro effects,"
Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 241-259.
- David A. Green & Christopher Worswick, 2004. "Immigrant earnings profiles in the presence of human capital investment: measuring cohort and macro effects," IFS Working Papers W04/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Gil Epstein, 2009. "Willingness to Assimilate and Ethnicity," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 35, pages 1.
- Sónia Cabral & Cláudia Duarte, 2013. "Mind the gap! The relative wages of immigrants in the Portuguese labour market," Working Papers w201305, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Daifeng He) or (Alfredo Pereira).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.