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Immigrants Assimilate as Communities, not just as Individuals

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  • Timothy J. Hatton
  • Andrew Leigh

Abstract

There is a large econometric literature that examines the economic assimilation of immigrants in the United States and elsewhere. On the whole immigrants are seen as atomistic individuals assimilating in a largely anonymous labour market, a view that runs counter to the spirit of the equally large literature on ethnic groups. Here we argue that immigrants assimilate as communities, not just as individuals. The longer the immigrant community has been established the better adjusted it is to the host society and the more the host society comes to accept that ethnic group. Thus economic outcomes for immigrants should depend not just on their own characteristics, but also on the legacy of past immigration from the same country. In this paper we test this hypothesis using data from a 5 percent sample of the 1980, 1990 and 2000 US censuses. We find that history matters in immigrant assimilation: the stronger is the tradition of immigration from a given source country, the better the economic outcomes for new immigrants from that source.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy J. Hatton & Andrew Leigh, 2007. "Immigrants Assimilate as Communities, not just as Individuals," CEPR Discussion Papers 547, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:547
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP547.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Strom, Steinar & Venturini, Alessandra & Villosio, Claudia, 2013. "Wage Assimilation: Migrants versus Natives and Foreign Migrants versus Internal Migrants," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201341, University of Turin.
    2. repec:bla:intmig:v:51:y:2017:i:2:p:416-451 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Richard M. Todd & Michael Grover, 2008. "Accounting for regional migration patterns and homeownership disparities in the Hmong-American refugee community, 1980-2000," Community Affairs Report 2008-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    4. Mehmet E. Yaya, 2016. "Within inequality characteristics and adaptation of immigrants in the United States," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 695-714, September.
    5. André Martínez & Martina Viarengo & Aldo Musacchio, 2010. "The Great Leap Forward: The Political Economy of Education in Brazil, 1889-1930," Working Papers 2010-18, Banco de México.
    6. Constant, Amelie F. & Schüller, Simone & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2013. "Ethnic Spatial Dispersion and Immigrant Identity," IZA Discussion Papers 7868, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Faini, Riccardo & Strom, Steinar & Venturini, Alessandra & Villosio, Claudia, 2009. "Are Foreign Migrants More Assimilated Than Native Ones?," IZA Discussion Papers 4639, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. James Foreman-Peck & Peng Zhou, 2013. "The strength and persistence of entrepreneurial cultures," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, pages 163-187.
    9. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Sinning, Mathias G., 2011. "Neighborhood diversity and the appreciation of native- and immigrant-owned homes," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 214-226, May.
    10. Longhi, Simonetta, 2017. "Spatial-Ethnic Inequalities: The Role of Location in the Estimation of Ethnic Wage Differentials," IZA Discussion Papers 11073, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Antonella D’Agostino & Andrea Regoli & Giancarlo Cornelio & Fabio Berti, 2016. "Studying Income Inequality of Immigrant Communities in Italy," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 83-100, May.
    12. Edgard Polanco, 2009. "Asimilación laboral de los inmigrantes colombianos en Estados Unidos," REVISTA DE ECONOMÍA DEL ROSARIO, UNIVERSIDAD DEL ROSARIO, May.
    13. Renee Luthra & Thomas Soehl, 2015. "From Parent to Child? Transmission of Educational Attainment Within Immigrant Families: Methodological Considerations," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(2), pages 543-567, April.
    14. Kahanec, Martin & Tosun, Mehmet S., 2007. "Political Economy of Immigration in Germany: Attitudes and Citizenship Aspirations," IZA Discussion Papers 3140, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Vaira-Lucero, Matias & Nahm, Daehoon & Tani, Massimiliano, 2012. "Socioeconomic Assimilation and Wealth Accumulation of Migrants in Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 6969, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Ferrie, Joseph & Hatton, Timothy J., 2013. "Two Centuries of International Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 7866, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Jain, Apoorva & Peter, Klara Sabirianova, 2017. "Limits to Wage Growth: Understanding the Wage Divergence between Immigrants and Natives," IZA Discussion Papers 10891, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2010. "The Economics of Cultural Transmission and Socialization," NBER Working Papers 16512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Georgiadis, Andreas & Manning, Alan, 2013. "One nation under a groove? Understanding national identity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 166-185.
    20. Kahanec, Martin, 2012. "Report No. 49: Skilled Labor Flows: Lessons from the European Union," IZA Research Reports 49, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    21. Georgiadis, Andreas & Manning, Alan, 2013. "One nation under a groove?: understanding national identity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 47581, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    22. Alessandra Venturini, 2012. "Methodological Aspects of Research on Flows Human Capital Flows: A survey," RSCAS Working Papers carim2012/01, European University Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigrant earnings; migration history; ethnic groups.;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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