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The careers of immigrants

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  • Ana Damas de Matos

Abstract

I use a unique linked employer employee panel covering all wage earners in the private sector in Portugal to shed new light on the careers of immigrants. During the first ten years in the country immigrants close one third of the initial immigrant-native wage gap. I show that one third of this wage catch-up is accounted for by firm heterogeneity: Immigrants remain in the same occupations but get jobs with better paying _rms. Over time immigrants move to larger, more productive firms and with a higher share of native workers. These patterns are similar for all the recent immigrants irrespective of their origin and in particular of whether their mother tongue is the host country's language. Motivated by these new stylized facts, I suggest an economic assimilation mechanism which highlights imperfect information about immigrant productivity. I build an employer learning model with firm heterogeneity and complementarities between worker and firm type. The initial uncertainty over immigrants' productivity prevents them from getting access to the best jobs. Over time, productivity is revealed and immigrants obtain better firm matches. I derive predictions on the immigrant wage distributions over time, on their mobility patterns and on the productivity distribution of firms they are matched with. The predictions of the model are in line with the data and are not trivially derived from competing explanations.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/51515/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 51515.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:51515

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Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/
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  1. Darren Lubotsky, 2000. "Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings," Labor and Demography 0004006, EconWPA.
  2. Fredrik Andersson & Mónica García-Pérez & John C. Haltiwanger & Kristin McCue & Seth Sanders, 2010. "Workplace Concentration of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 16544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Farber, Henry S & Gibbons, Robert, 1996. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1007-47, November.
  4. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  5. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence F. Katz & Thomas Lemieux & Daniel Parent, 2005. "Comparative Advantage, Learning, and Sectoral Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 681-724, October.
  6. Eric J. Bartelsman & Mark Doms, 2000. "Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  7. Eckstein, Zvi & Weiss, Yoram, 2003. "On the Wage Growth of Immigrants: Israel, 1990-2000," IZA Discussion Papers 710, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Pendakur, Krishna & Woodcock, Simon, 2010. "Glass Ceilings or Glass Doors? Wage Disparity Within and Between Firms," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 28(1), pages 181-189.
  9. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-88, April.
  10. Philipp Kircher & Iourii Manovski & Fane Nadja Groes, 2009. "The U-Shapes of Occupational Mobility," 2009 Meeting Papers 26, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
  12. Paulo Guimarães & Pedro Portugal, 2009. "A Simple Feasible Alternative Procedure to Estimate Models with High-Dimensional Fixed Effects," Working Papers w200909, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  13. Abdurrahman Aydemir & Mikal Skuterud, 2008. "The Immigrant Wage Differential within and across Establishments," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(3), pages 334-352, April.
  14. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
  15. Harriet Duleep & Daniel Dowhan, 2002. "Insights from longitudinal data on the earnings growth of U.S. foreign-born men," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 485-506, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Panagiotis Nanos & Christian Schluter, 2013. "The Composition of Wage Differentials between Migrants and Natives," Papers 1306.1781, arXiv.org, revised Oct 2013.
  2. Magnus Strömgren & Tiit Tammaru & Alexander Danzer & Maarten Ham & Szymon Marcińczak & Olof Stjernström & Urban Lindgren, 2014. "Factors Shaping Workplace Segregation Between Natives and Immigrants," Demography, Springer, vol. 51(2), pages 645-671, April.

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