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From Engineer to Taxi Driver? Occupational Skills and the Economic Outcomes of Immigrants

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Author Info

  • Susumu Imai

    ()
    (Queen`s University, Department of Economics)

  • Derek Stacey

    ()
    (Queen`s University, Department of Economics)

  • Casey Warman

    ()
    (Queen`s University, Department of Economics)

Abstract

We examine the ability of male immigrants to transfer their occupational human capital using information from the O*NET and a unique dataset that includes both the last source country occupation and the first four years of occupations in Canada. We first augment a model of occupational choice and skill accumulation to derive predictions about the cross-border transferability of occupational human capital. We then test the empirical implications using the skill requirements of pre- and post-immigration occupations. We find that male immigrants to Canada were employed in source country occupations that required high levels of cognitive skills, but relied less intently on manual skills. Following immigration, they find initial employment in occupations that require the opposite. Regression analysis uncovers large returns to the quantitative skill requirements of Canadian occupations, but no returns to source country skill requirements. Finally, our empirical findings suggests that occupational skill gaps are detrimental to immigrants` earnings.

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File URL: http://www.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_1275.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1275.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1275

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Keywords: occupational mobility; skills; human capital; immigration;

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References

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  1. Maxim Poletaev & Chris Robinson, 2008. "Human Capital Specificity: Evidence from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and Displaced Worker Surveys 1984-2000," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20083, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  2. Ana Ferrer & David A. Green & W. Craig Riddell, 2006. "The Effect of Literacy on Immigrant Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  3. Abdurrahman Aydemir & Mikal Skuterud, 2005. "Explaining the deteriorating entry earnings of Canada's immigrant cohorts, 1966 - 2000," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(2), pages 641-672, May.
  4. Bloom, D. & Grenier, G. & Gunderson, M., 1993. "The Changing Labour Market Position of Canadian Immigrants," Working Papers 9305e, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
  5. Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2012. "Tasks and Heterogeneous Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(1), pages 1 - 53.
  6. Michèle V. K. Belot & Timothy J. Hatton, 2012. "Immigrant Selection in the OECD," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1105-1128, December.
  7. Gathmann, Christina & Schönberg, Uta, 2007. "How General Is Human Capital? A Task-Based Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 3067, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Parent, Daniel, 2000. "Industry-Specific Capital and the Wage Profile: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 306-23, April.
  9. Gustave Goldmann & Arthur Sweetman & Casey Warman, 2011. "The Portability of New Immigrants' Human Capital: Language, Education and Occupational Matching," Working Papers 1271, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  10. Darren Lubotsky, 2000. "Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings," Labor and Demography 0004006, EconWPA.
  11. Cohen-Goldner, Sarit & Eckstein, Zvi, 2010. "Estimating the return to training and occupational experience: The case of female immigrants," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 86-105, May.
  12. Charles Beach & Alan G. Green & Christopher Worswick, 2006. "Impacts of the Point System and Immigration Policy Levers on Skill Characteristics of Canadian Immigrants," Working Papers 1115, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  13. Gueorgui Kambourov & Iourii Manovskii, 2009. "Occupational Specificity Of Human Capital," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(1), pages 63-115, 02.
  14. Ingram, Beth F. & Neumann, George R., 2006. "The returns to skill," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 35-59, February.
  15. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2007. "Occupational Language Requirements and the Value of English in the U.S. Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 2664, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Green, David A, 1999. "Immigrant Occupational Attainment: Assimilation and Mobility over Time," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 49-79, January.
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Cited by:
  1. James Ted McDonald & Casey Warman & Christopher Worswick, 2012. "Immigrant Selection Systems and Occupational Outcomes of International Medical Graduates in Canada and the United States," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 293, McMaster University.
  2. Al?cia Adser? & Ana M. Ferrer, 2014. "The Myth of Immigrant Women as Secondary Workers: Evidence from Canada," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 360-64, May.

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