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The Economic Progress of Immigrants

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  • George J. Borjas

Abstract

This paper presents a theoretical and empirical study of the economic progress experienced by immigrants in the U.S. labor market. The theoretical framework illustrates that the relationship between the entry wage of immigrants and the subsequent rate of wage growth depends on the technology of the human capital production function, particularly the extent of substitution or complementarity between pre-existing' human capital and post-migration investments. The empirical analysis uses the 1970-1990 decennial Census data. The evidence indicates that the correlation between the log entry wage and the rate of wage growth is positive but this correlation is weakened and perhaps turns negative when we compare immigrants who start out in the United States with similar human capital endowments. The empirical analysis also indicates that the same source country characteristics that lead to high wages at the time of entry also lead to faster wage growth.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6506.

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Date of creation: Apr 1998
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Publication status: published as The Economic Progress of Immigrants , George J. Borjas. in Issues in the Economics of Immigration , Borjas. 2000
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6506

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  1. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
  2. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1990. "The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 3573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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  5. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-91, September.
  6. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  7. George J. Borjas, 1992. "National Origin and the Skills of Immigrants in the Postwar Period," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 17-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hause, John C, 1980. "The Fine Structure of Earnings and the On-the-Job Training Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 1013-29, May.
  9. Guillermina Jasso & Mark Rosensweig & James P. Smith, 2003. "The Earnings of US immigrants," Labor and Demography, EconWPA 0312007, EconWPA.
  10. Robert J. Barro, 1996. "Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study," NBER Working Papers 5698, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 2248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman, 1992. "Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number borj92-1, October.
  13. Rosen, Sherwin, 1976. "A Theory of Life Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S45-67, August.
  14. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  15. Yuengert, A M, 1994. "Immigrant Earnings, Relative to What? The Importance of Earnings Function Specification and Comparison Points," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(1), pages 71-90, Jan.-Marc.
  16. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
  17. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
  18. Edward Funkhouser & Stephen J. Trejo, 1995. "The labor market skills of recent male immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 792-811, July.
  19. Borjas, George J & Bratsberg, Bernt, 1996. "Who Leaves? The Outmigration of the Foreign-Born," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-76, February.
  20. Kearl, J R, 1988. "The Covariance Structure of Earnings and Income, Compensatory Behavior, and On-the-Job Investments," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 214-23, May.
  21. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
  22. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1994. "Sources of economic growth," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-46, June.
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