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How Do Immigrants Spend Time?: The Process of Assimilation

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  • Daniel S. Hamermesh
  • Stephen J. Trejo

Abstract

Using 2004-2008 data from the American Time Use Survey, we show that sharp differences between the time use of immigrants and natives become noticeable when activities are distinguished by incidence and intensity. We develop a theory of the process of assimilation—what immigrants do with their time—based on the notion that assimilating activities entail fixed costs. The theory predicts that immigrants will be less likely than natives to undertake such activities, but conditional on undertaking them, immigrants will spend more time on them than natives. We identify several activities—purchasing, education and market work—as requiring the most interaction with the native world, and these activities more than others fit the theoretical predictions. Additional tests suggest that the costs of assimilating derive from the costs of learning English and from some immigrants’ unfamiliarity with a high-income market economy. A replication using the 1992 Australian Time Use Survey yields remarkably similar results.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16430.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Publication status: published as Journal of Population Economics April 2013, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 507-530
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16430

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  1. Heather Antecol & Peter Kuhn & Stephen J. Trejo, 2006. "Assimilation via Prices or Quantities?: Sources of Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
  2. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2005. "Data Watch: The American Time Use Survey," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 221-232, Winter.
  3. Christian Dustmann & Francesca Fabbri, 2003. "Language proficiency and labour market performance of immigrants in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 695-717, 07.
  4. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
  5. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2010. "Do Ethnic Minorities "Stretch" Their Time?: Evidence from the UK Time Use Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 999, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  6. Stewart, Jay, 2009. "Tobit or Not Tobit?," IZA Discussion Papers 4588, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. William J. Burke, 2009. "Fitting and interpreting Cragg's tobit alternative using Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(4), pages 584-592, December.
  8. Antecol, Heather & Kuhn, Peter J. & Trejo, Stephen, 2003. "Assimilation via Prices or Quantities? Labor Market Institutions and Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 802, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Friedberg, Rachel & Jaeger, David A., 2009. "The Economic Diversity of Immigration Across the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 4555, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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Cited by:
  1. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus Zimmermann, 2011. "Do ethnic minorities “stretch” their time? UK household evidence on multitasking," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 181-206, June.

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