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The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U. S. Labor Market

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

  • Robert J. LaLonde
  • Robert H. Topel

This paper reassesses the evidence on the assimilation and the changing labor market skills of immigrants to the United States. We find strong evidence of labor market assimilation for most immigrant groups. For Asian and Mexican immigrants the first ten years experience in the united States raise earnings by more than 20 percent. Further, this estimate may understate the actual rate of assimilation because of the sharp decline in the relative wages of unskilled U.S. workers. We also find little evidence of declining immigrant "quality" within ethnic groups. The diminished labor market skills of new immigrants result entirely from changes in the immigrants' countries of origin.

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This chapter was published in:
  • 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, December.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 6906.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:6906
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Labor Market Adjustments to Increased Immigration," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 167-199 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. 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.
    5. Kristin Butcher, 1990. "Black Immigrants to the United States: A Comparison with Native Blacks and Other Immigrants," Working Papers 648, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. Murphy, Kevin M & Welch, Finis, 1990. "Empirical Age-Earnings Profiles," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(2), pages 202-29, April.
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