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Gender, Comparative Advantage and Labour Market Activity in Immigrant Families

  • Deborah Cobb-Clark
  • Thomas Crossley

The family investment hypothesis predicts that credit-constrained immigrant families adopt a household strategy for financing post-migration human capital investment in which the partner with labor market comparative advantage engages in investment activities and the other partner undertakes labor market activities which finance current consumption. We assess this hypothesis by focusing on two issues: first, the extent to which the specialization in the investing versus financing role is based on comparative advantage versus gender, and second, the extent to which credit constraints offer a potential explanation for observed behavior. Using a unique new Australian data set we find that comparative advantage and gender can be separately identified in migrating families. We find some support for the family investment hypothesis among traditional families (where labor market comparative advantage resides with the male partner) but not among nontraditional families.

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File URL: http://cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP433.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 433.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:433
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Web page: http://rse.anu.edu.au/cepr.php
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  1. 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.
  2. Christopher Worswick, 1996. "Immigrant Families in the Canadian Labour Market," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 22(4), pages 378-396, December.
  3. Worswick, C. & Beach, C.M., 1990. "Is There a Double-Negative Effect on the Earnings of Immigrant Women?," Papers 1990-6, Queen's at Kingston - Sch. of Indus. Relat. Papers in Industrial Relations.
  4. 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.
  5. Christopher Worswick, 1999. "Credit Constraints and the Labour Supply of Immigrant Families in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(1), pages 152-170, February.
  6. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-53, September.
  7. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Connolly, Marie D. & Worswick, Christopher, 2001. "The Job Search and Education Investments of Immigrant Families," IZA Discussion Papers 290, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Deborah Cobb-Clark & Marie D. Connolly & Christopher Worswick, 2001. "The Job Search and Investments of Immigrant Families," CEPR Discussion Papers 432, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  9. 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.
  10. Antecol, Heather, 2000. "An examination of cross-country differences in the gender gap in labor force participation rates," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 409-426, July.
  11. Harriet Duleep & Seth Sanders, 1993. "The decision to work by married immigrant women," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 677-690, July.
  12. Reimers, Cordelia W, 1985. "Cultural Differences in Labor Force Participation among Married Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 251-55, May.
  13. Harriet Orcutt Duleep & Seth Sanders, 1993. "The Decision to Work by Married Immigrant Women," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 677-690, July.
  14. 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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