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National Origin and the Skills of Immigrants in the Postwar Period

In: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas

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  • George J. Borjas

Abstract

The postwar period witnessed major changes in U.S. immigration policy and in economic and political conditions in many of the source countries. As a result, the size, origin, and skill composition of immigrant flows changed substantially. This paper uses the Public Use Samples of the five decennial Census between 1940 and 1980 to document the extent of these changes. The empirical analysis yields two substantive results. First, almost all of the measures of skills or labor market success available in the data document a steady deterioration in the skills and labor market performance of successive immigrants waves over the postwar period, with this trend accelerating since 1960. Second, the study suggests that a single factor, the changing national origin mix of the immigrant flow, is almost entirely responsible for this trend.
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Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:6904
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    1. Eichengreen, Barry & Gemery, Henry A., 1986. "The Earnings of Skilled and Unskilled Immigrants at the End of the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 441-454, June.
    2. Borjas, George J, 1989. "Immigrant and Emigrant Earnings: A Longitudinal Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(1), pages 21-37, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Oaxaca, Ronald, 1973. "Male-Female Wage Differentials in Urban Labor Markets," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 14(3), pages 693-709, October.
    5. Borjas, George J & Bratsberg, Bernt, 1996. "Who Leaves? The Outmigration of the Foreign-Born," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-176, February.
    6. Michael G. Abbott & Charles M. Beach, 1987. "Immigrant Earnings Differentials and Cohort Effects in Canada," Working Papers 705, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    7. A. D. Roy, 1951. "Some Thoughts On The Distribution Of Earnings," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 135-146.
    8. Carliner, Geoffrey, 1980. "Wages, Earnings and Hours of First, Second, and Third Generation American Males," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(1), pages 87-102, January.
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