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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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Cited by:
  1. Andri Chassamboulli & Giovanni Peri, 2014. "The Labor Market Effects of Reducing Undocumented Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 19932, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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