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The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: Evidence from the United States

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  • Francine D. Blau
  • Lawrence M. Kahn
  • Joan Y. Moriarty
  • Andre Portela Souza

Abstract

We use Census of Population microdata for 1980 and 1990 to examine the labor supply and wages of immigrant husbands and wives in the United States in a family context. Earlier research by Baker and Benjamin (1997) posits a family investment model in which, upon arrival, immigrant husbands invest in their human capital while immigrant wives work to provide the family with liquidity during this period. Consistent with this model, they find for Canada that immigrant wives work longer hours upon arrival than comparable natives, but, with time in Canada, they are eventually overtaken by native wives. In contrast, we find that, among immigrants to the United States, both husbands and wives work and earn less than comparable natives upon arrival, with similar shortfalls for men and women. Further, both immigrant husbands and wives have similar, positive assimilation profiles in wages and labor supply and eventually overtake both the wages and the labor supply of comparable natives.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9051.

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Date of creation: Jul 2002
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Publication status: published as Blau, Francine D., Lawrence M. Kahn, Joan Moriarty, and Andre Souza. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants’ Labor-Market Activity: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations: Comment." American Economic Review (March 2003).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9051

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  1. George J. Borjas, 1991. "Immigration Policy, National Origin, and Immigrant Skills: A Comparison of Canada and the United States," NBER Working Papers 3691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Francine D. Blau, 1991. "The Fertility of Immigrant Women: Evidence from High Fertility Source Countries," NBER Working Papers 3608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Card, David & Freeman, Richard B. (ed.), 1993. "Small Differences That Matter," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226092836.
  4. 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.
  5. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, Octomber.
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  7. Richard B. Freeman & Karen Needels, 1991. "Skill Differentials in Canada in an Era of Rising Labor Market Inequality," NBER Working Papers 3827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
  9. Jacob Mincer, 1962. "Labor Force Participation of Married Women: A Study of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters, in: Aspects of Labor Economics, pages 63-106 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Johnson, William R & Skinner, Jonathan, 1986. "Labor Supply and Marital Separation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 455-69, June.
  11. Richard Blundell & Thomas MaCurdy, 1998. "Labour supply: a review of alternative approaches," IFS Working Papers W98/18, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  12. Harriet Duleep & Seth Sanders, 1993. "The decision to work by married immigrant women," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 677-690, July.
  13. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M, 1997. "Wage Inequality and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 72-97, January.
  14. David Card & Richard B. Freeman, 1993. "Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number card93-1.
  15. Edward Funkhouser, 2000. "Convergence in Employment Rates of Immigrants," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 143-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1997. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 705-27, September.
  17. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-89, October.
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