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The Effect of Changes in the U.S. Wage Structure on Recent Immigrants' Earnings

  • Darren Lubotsky

    (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Since recent immigrants tend to earn less than natives, their relative earnings have been adversely affected by an increase in the return to labor market skills over the past three decades. Using longitudinal Social Security records matched to cross-sections of the SIPP and CPS, I estimate the return to skills rose by 41% between 1980 and 1997. This reduced the relative earnings of immigrants who arrived in the 1980s and early 1990s by 10 to 15 percentage points. Examining solely the earnings of recent immigrants may lead to an overly pessimistic picture of their actual labor market skills. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00094
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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 93 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 59-71

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:93:y:2011:i:1:p:59-71
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  1. Lubotsky, D., 2000. "Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings," Papers 195, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Development Studies.
  2. Edin, Per-Anders & LaLonde, Robert J. & Åslund, Olof, 2000. "Emigration of Immigrants and Measures of Immigrant Assimilation: Evidence from Sweden," Working Paper Series 2000:13, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  3. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  4. Kristin F. Butcher & John DiNardo, 1998. "The Immigrant and Native-born Wage Distributions: Evidence from United States Censuses," NBER Working Papers 6630, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Wei-Yin Hu, 2000. "Immigrant Earnings Assimilation: Estimates from Longitudinal Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 368-372, May.
  8. Katz, Lawrence F. & Autor, David H., 1999. "Changes in the wage structure and earnings inequality," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 26, pages 1463-1555 Elsevier.
  9. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1992. "The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U. S. Labor Market," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 67-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. MaCurdy, Thomas E., 1982. "The use of time series processes to model the error structure of earnings in a longitudinal data analysis," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 83-114, January.
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