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How Different are Wages from Wage Potentials? - Analyzing the earnings disadvantage of immigrants in Germany

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Abstract

Immigrants in Germany display a poor earnings performance relative to natives. Arguing that human capital endowments identify earnings potentials rather than actual earnings, this paper estimates a stochastic earnings frontier and searches for systematic differences between natives and migrants in terms of distance to the frontier. GSOEP-Data of the year 2000 is used for estimation. The empirical results clearly support the frontier assumption, but – surprisingly – find natives and immigrants at about the same distance to the frontier. Assuming a half-normal distribution of the wage-inefficiency term, both groups trans­formed on average a modest 81% share of their potential income into market earnings. Due to the similar positions of natives and immigrants relative to the frontier, the wage discrimination hypothesis is rejected. Actually, human capital differentials are clearly the most important source for wage inequality. The earnings frontiers of immigrants from Eastern Europe as well as from Turkey are steeper than the respective frontier of natives, which supports the assimilation hypothesis. No assimilation is found for migrants from the European Union and from the former Yugoslavia.

Suggested Citation

  • Guenter Lang, 2004. "How Different are Wages from Wage Potentials? - Analyzing the earnings disadvantage of immigrants in Germany," Discussion Paper Series 256, Universitaet Augsburg, Institute for Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:aug:augsbe:0256
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    File URL: https://www.wiwi.uni-augsburg.de/vwl/institut/paper/256.pdf
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    1. Schmidt, Christoph M., 1997. "Immigrant performance in Germany: Labor earnings of ethnic German migrants and foreign guest-workers," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(Supplemen), pages 379-397.
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    8. Fried, Harold O. & Lovell, C. A. Knox & Schmidt, Shelton S. (ed.), 1993. "The Measurement of Productive Efficiency: Techniques and Applications," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072181.
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    Cited by:

    1. Polachek, Solomon & Xiang, Jun, 2005. "The Effects of Incomplete Employee Wage Information: A Cross-Country Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 1735, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Sharif, Najma R. & Dar, Atul A., 2007. "An Empirical Investigation of the Impact of Imperfect Information on Wages in Canada," Review of Applied Economics, Review of Applied Economics, vol. 3(1-2).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Stochastic Wage Frontier; Inefficiency; Immigration; Assimilation; Discrimination; Human Capital Approach;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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