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The Economic Progress of Immigrants

In: Issues in the Economics of Immigration

  • George J. Borjas

This paper presents a theoretical and empirical study of the economic progress experienced by immigrants in the U.S. labor market. The theoretical framework illustrates that the relationship between the entry wage of immigrants and the subsequent rate of wage growth depends on the technology of the human capital production function, particularly the extent of substitution or complementarity between pre-existing' human capital and post-migration investments. The empirical analysis uses the 1970-1990 decennial Census data. The evidence indicates that the correlation between the log entry wage and the rate of wage growth is positive but this correlation is weakened and perhaps turns negative when we compare immigrants who start out in the United States with similar human capital endowments. The empirical analysis also indicates that the same source country characteristics that lead to high wages at the time of entry also lead to faster wage growth.

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This chapter was published in:
  • George J. Borjas, 2000. "Issues in the Economics of Immigration," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number borj00-1, May.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 6052.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:6052
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Robert J. Barro, 1996. "Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-Country Empirical Study," NBER Working Papers 5698, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Katz, Lawrence F & Murphy, Kevin M, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78, February.
    3. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352.
    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. Hause, John C, 1980. "The Fine Structure of Earnings and the On-the-Job Training Hypothesis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 1013-29, May.
    6. George J. Borjas & Bernt Bratsberg, 1994. "Who Leaves? The Outmigration of the Foreign-Born," NBER Working Papers 4913, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Barro, R.J., 1989. "Economic Growth In A Cross Section Of Countries," RCER Working Papers 201, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
    8. Neumark, David & Taubman, Paul, 1995. "Why Do Wage Profiles Slope Upward? Tests of the General Human Capital Model," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(4), pages 736-61, October.
    9. Deininger, Klaus & Squire, Lyn, 1996. "A New Data Set Measuring Income Inequality," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 565-91, September.
    10. Kearl, J R, 1988. "The Covariance Structure of Earnings and Income, Compensatory Behavior, and On-the-Job Investments," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 70(2), pages 214-23, May.
    11. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 2248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman, 1992. "Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number borj92-1, May.
    13. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326, February.
    14. Rosen, Sherwin, 1976. "A Theory of Life Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S45-67, August.
    15. Edward Funkhouser & Stephen J. Trejo, 1995. "The labor market skills of recent male immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 792-811, July.
    16. Mankiw, N Gregory & Romer, David & Weil, David N, 1992. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 407-37, May.
    17. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1994. "Sources of economic growth," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 1-46, June.
    18. Guillermina Jasso & Mark Rosensweig & James P. Smith, 2003. "The Earnings of US immigrants," Labor and Demography 0312007, EconWPA.
    19. Yuengert, A M, 1994. "Immigrant Earnings, Relative to What? The Importance of Earnings Function Specification and Comparison Points," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(1), pages 71-90, Jan.-Marc.
    20. 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.
    21. George J. Borjas, 1992. "National Origin and the Skills of Immigrants in the Postwar Period," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 17-48 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    22. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
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