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Recent Trends in the Skill Composition of Legal U.S. Immigrants


  • Linnea Polgreen

    () (University of Iowa, Department of Economics)

  • Nicole B. Simpson

    () (Colgate University, Department of Economics)


We examine fluctuations in the predicted educational attainment of newly arrived legal U.S. immigrants between 1972 and 1999 by combining data from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service with the Current Population Survey. A mid-1980s decline gave way to a noticeable improvement in the skill base of the immigrant population between 1987 and 1993. A short decline in the quality of immigrant skills—less severe than that of the mid-1980s—took place in the mid-1990s. In 1998, the trend reverses once more: The labor market quality of new legal U.S. immigrants improves. The primary sources of the fluctuations include changes in the quality and quantity of immigrants obtaining an adjustment and variations in the distribution of source regions and entry class types among new legal U.S. immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Linnea Polgreen & Nicole B. Simpson, 2006. "Recent Trends in the Skill Composition of Legal U.S. Immigrants," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 938-957, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:72:4:y:2006:p:938-957

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. James T. Bang & Aniruddha Mitra, 2009. "Brain Drain and Institutions of Governance: Educational Attainment of Immigrants to the US 1988-2000," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0919, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
    2. Bang, James T. & Mitra, Aniruddha, 2011. "Brain drain and institutions of governance: Educational attainment of immigrants to the US 1988-1998," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 335-354, September.
    3. Yuriy Pylypchuk & Julie Hudson, 2009. "Immigrants and the use of preventive care in the United States," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(7), pages 783-806.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts


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