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Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings

  • Darren Lubotsky

I use longitudinal earnings data from Social Security records to study the effect of selective emigration on the measured progress of immigrants to the United States. The immigrant-native earnings gap closes by 10-15 percent during immigrants' first 20 years in the United States, or about half as fast as typical estimates from repeated cross sections of the decennial census. The divergent results indicate that emigration by low-wage immigrants has systematically led past researchers to overestimate the wage progress of immigrants who remain in the United States. Selective back-and-forth migration also leads typical estimates to overstate the measured decline in earnings among successive immigrant arrival cohorts between 1960 and 1980. (c) 2007 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved..

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File URL: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/522871
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 115 (2007)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 820-867

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:115:y:2007:i:5:p:820-867
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JPE/

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  1. Powell, James L., 1984. "Least absolute deviations estimation for the censored regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 303-325, July.
  2. Edward Funkhouser & Stephen J. Trejo, 1995. "The Labor Market Skills of Recent Male Immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 792-811, July.
  3. John Bound & Alan B. Krueger, 1989. "The Extent of Measurement Error In Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make A Right?," NBER Working Papers 2885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Geoffrey Carliner, 1996. "The Wages and Language Skills of U.S. Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 5763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1993. "Trends in Relative Black-White Earnings Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 85-91, May.
  9. 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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