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Immigrant earnings in the Italian labour market


  • Antonio Accetturo

    () (Bank of Italy, Milan Branch)

  • Luigi Infante

    () (Bank of Italy, Economic and Financial Statistics Department)


The aim of this paper is to assess the relationship between individual skills and labour market performance of immigrants residing in Lombardy during the period 2001-2005. We use a recent dataset collected by the NGO ISMU, which includes information on individual characteristics and the legal status of each immigrant. Our results show that returns on schooling are positive and range from 0.8 per cent to 0.9 per cent, a figure that is much lower than the one estimated for native Italians. This result is robust to a number of specifications and tests. In particular, it is not influenced by the legal status of the alien or by a possible self-selection in the labour supply. Moreover, although more talented immigrants tend to self-select in the Lombardy region compared with the other Italian regions, their return on schooling remains low compared with natives. We also show that a certain heterogeneity exists across educational levels and countries of origin: immigrants from Eastern Europe are better able to exploit their human capital, especially when they hold a university degree, while the school-wage profile of Latin Americans and Asians is basically flat. Finally, there is some evidence of a cohort effect in migration, but this tends to impact on the return on experience rather than on the return on schooling.

Suggested Citation

  • Antonio Accetturo & Luigi Infante, 2008. "Immigrant earnings in the Italian labour market," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 695, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
  • Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_695_08

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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. Paolo Pinotti, 2017. "Clicking on Heaven's Door: The Effect of Immigrant Legalization on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 138-168, January.
    3. repec:bdi:workqs:qse_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2015. "Legal Status and the Criminal Activity of Immigrants," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 175-206, April.
    5. Francesco Fasani, 2015. "Understanding the Role of Immigrants’ Legal Status: Evidence from Policy Experiments," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 61(3-4), pages 722-763.
    6. Christian Dustmann & Francesco Fasani & Biagio Speciale, 2017. "Illegal Migration and Consumption Behavior of Immigrant Households," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 654-691.
    7. Carlo Dell’Aringa & Claudio Lucifora & Laura Pagani, 2015. "Earnings differentials between immigrants and natives: the role of occupational attainment," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-18, December.
    8. Guriev, Sergei & Speciale, Biagio & Tuccio, Michele, 2016. "How do regulated and unregulated labor markets respond to shocks? Evidence from immigrants during the Great Recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 11403, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. BELLINO, Antonella & CELI, Giuseppe, 2016. "The Migration-Trade Nexus in the Presence of Vertical and Horizontal Product Differentiation," CELPE Discussion Papers 137, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.
    10. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2011. "Migration Restrictions and Criminal Behavior: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Working Papers 2011.53, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    11. Del Boca, Daniela & Venturini, Alessandra, 2014. "Migration in Italy is Backing the Old Age Welfare," IZA Discussion Papers 8328, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Matteo Gomellini & Cormac O' Grada, 2011. "Outward and Inward Migrations in Italy: A Historical Perspective," Quaderni di storia economica (Economic History Working Papers) 08, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    13. Esteban Sanromà & Raúl Ramos & Hipólito Simón, 2009. "Immigrant wages in the Spanish labour market: does the origin of human capital matter?," Working Papers 2009/8, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    14. Dell’Aringa, Carlo & Lucifora, Claudio & Pagani, Laura, 2012. "A "Glass-Ceiling" Effect for Immigrants in the Italian Labour Market?," IZA Discussion Papers 6555, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2011. "Legal status of immigrants and criminal behavior: evidence from a natural experiment," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 813, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    16. Giovanni Mastrobuoni & Paolo Pinotti, 2014. "The Ups and Downs in Women's Employment: Shifting Composition or Behavior from 1970 to 2010?," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 14-212, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    17. Antonio Accetturo & Luigi Infante, 2013. "Skills or culture? An analysis of the decision to work by immigrant women in Italy," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, December.

    More about this item


    Immigration; return on schooling; return on experience;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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