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Recent Trends in the Earnings of New Immigrants to the United States

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  • George J. Borjas
  • Rachel M. Friedberg

Abstract

This paper studies long-term trends in the labor market performance of immigrants in the United States, using the 1960-2000 PUMS and 1994-2009 CPS. While there was a continuous decline in the earnings of new immigrants 1960-1990, the trend reversed in the 1990s, with newcomers doing as well in 2000, relative to natives, as they had 20 years earlier. This improvement in immigrant performance is not explained by changes in origin-country composition, educational attainment or state of residence. Changes in labor market conditions, including changes in the wage structure which could differentially impact recent arrivals, can account for only a small portion of it. The upturn appears to have been caused in part by a shift in immigration policy toward high-skill workers matched with jobs, an increase in the earnings of immigrants from Mexico, and a decline in the earnings of native high school dropouts. However, most of the increase remains a puzzle. Results from the CPS suggest that, while average entry wages fell again after 2000, correcting for simple changes in the composition of new immigrants, the unexplained rise in entry wages has persisted.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15406.

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Date of creation: Oct 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15406

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  1. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2002. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," NBER Working Papers 9242, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Assimilation and Changes in Cohort Quality Revisited: What Happened to Immigrant Earnings in the 1980s?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 201-45, April.
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  21. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Green, David A. & Worswick, Christopher, 2012. "Immigrant earnings profiles in the presence of human capital investment: Measuring cohort and macro effects," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 241-259.
  2. Chassamboulli, Andri & Palivos, Theodore, 2012. "A Search-Equilibrium Approach to the Effects of Immigration on Labor Market Outcomes," MPRA Paper 43297, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Rob Hodgson & Jacques Poot, 2011. "New Zealand Research on the Economic Impacts of Immigration 2005-2010: Synthesis and Research Agenda," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1104, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  4. George J. Borjas, 2013. "The Slowdown in the Economic Assimilation of Immigrants: Aging and Cohort Effects Revisited Again," NBER Working Papers 19116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Li, Qing & Sweetman, Arthur, 2014. "The quality of immigrant source country educational outcomes: Do they matter in the receiving country?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 81-93.
  6. Andri Chassamboulli & Giovanni Peri, 2014. "The Labor Market Effects of Reducing Undocumented Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 19932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Aguilar Esteva, Arturo Alberto, 2013. "Stayers and Returners: Educational Self-Selection among U.S. Immigrants and Returning Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 7222, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Osili, Una Okonkwo & Paulson, Anna, 2014. "Crises and confidence: Systemic banking crises and depositor behavior," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(3), pages 646-660.
  9. Michele Battisti & Gabriel Felbermayr & Giovanni Peri & Panu Poutvaara, 2014. "Immigration, Search, and Redistribution: A Quantitative Assessment of Native Welfare," NBER Working Papers 20131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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