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The Effect of Immigration on Native Self-Employment

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  • Fairlie, Robert

Abstract

A rapidly growing literature examines the impact of immigrants on the labor market outcomes of native-born Americans. However, the impact of immigration on natives in entrepreneurship has not been examined, despite the over-representation of immigrants in that sector and theoretical reasons why the impact might be greater for the self-employed. We first present a new general equilibrium model of self-employment and wage/salary work. For a range of plausible parameter values, the model predicts small negative effects of immigration on native self-employment rates and earnings. Using 1980 and 1990 Census microdata, we then examine the relationship between changes in immigration and native self-employment rates and earnings across 132 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. We find evidence supporting the hypothesis that self-employed immigrants displace self-employed natives. The effects are much larger than those predicted by simulations of the theoretical model. Immigrants, however, do not have a negative effect on native self-employment earnings. Our findings are similar if we weight immigration rates by the propensity of immigrant groups to be self-employed or if we try alternative estimation techniques and specifications. A rapidly growing literature examines the impact of immigrants on the labor market outcomes of native-born Americans. However, the impact of immigration on natives in entrepreneurship has not been examined, despite the over-representation of immigrants in that sector and theoretical reasons why the impact might be greater for the self-employed. We first present a new general equilibrium model of self-employment and wage/salary work. For a range of plausible parameter values, the model predicts small negative effects of immigration on native self-employment rates and earnings. Using 1980 and 1990 Census microdata, we then examine the relationship between changes in immigration and native self-employment rates and earnings across 132 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. We find evidence supporting the hypothesis that self-employed immigrants displace self-employed natives. The effects are much larger than those predicted by simulations of the theoretical model. Immigrants, however, do not have a negative effect on native self-employment earnings. Our findings are similar if we weight immigration rates by the propensity of immigrant groups to be self-employed or if we try alternative estimation techniques and specifications.

Suggested Citation

  • Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "The Effect of Immigration on Native Self-Employment," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt7bq2h9rh, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt7bq2h9rh
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Devine, Theresa J, 1994. "Changes in Wage-and-Salary Returns to Skill and the Recent Rise in Female Self-Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 108-113, May.
    2. Borjas, George J. & Sueyoshi, Glenn T., 1994. "A two-stage estimator for probit models with structural group effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1-2), pages 165-182.
    3. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1994. "Entrepreneurial Decisions and Liquidity Constraints," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 334-347, Summer.
    4. Borjas, George J & Freeman, Richard B & Katz, Lawrence, 1996. "Searching for the Effect of Immigration on the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 246-251, May.
    5. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1998. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 26-60, January.
    6. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, 1996. "Ethnic and Racial Self-Employment Differences and Possible Explanations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 757-793.
    7. Rachel M. Friedberg & Jennifer Hunt, 1995. "The Impact of Immigrants on Host Country Wages, Employment and Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
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    9. Andrew M. Yuengert, 1995. "Testing Hypotheses of Immigrant Self-Employment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 194-204.
    10. Robert W. Fairlie, 2000. "Earnings Growth among Young Less-Educated Business Owners," JCPR Working Papers 207, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    11. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Friedman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "How Much Do Immigration and Trade Affect Labor Market Outcomes?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 1-90.
    12. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    13. Bartel, Ann P, 1989. "Where Do the New U.S. Immigrants Live?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 371-391, October.
    14. David A. Jaeger & Susanna Loeb & Sarah E. Turner & John Bound, 1998. "Coding Geographic Areas Across Census Years: Creating Consistent Definitions of Metropolitan Areas," NBER Working Papers 6772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcén, Miriam, 2014. "The role of culture on self-employment," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 44(S1), pages 20-32.
    2. Saiz, Albert, 2007. "Immigration and housing rents in American cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 345-371, March.
    3. Constant, Amelie F. & Shachmurove, Yochanan, 2003. "Entrepreneurial Ventures and Wage Differentials Between Germans and Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 879, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Baez, Javier E., 2011. "Civil wars beyond their borders: The human capital and health consequences of hosting refugees," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 391-408, November.
    5. Robert W. Fairlie & Christopher Woodruff, 2007. "Mexican Entrepreneurship: A Comparison of Self-Employment in Mexico and the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 123-158 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Marcus H. Böhme & Sarah Kups, 2017. "The economic effects of labour immigration in developing countries: A literature review," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 335, OECD Publishing.
    7. Tengeh, Robertson Khan & Ballard, Harry & Slabbert, Andre, 2011. "A framework for acquiring the resources vital for the start-up of a business in South Africa:an African Immigrant’s Perspective," MPRA Paper 34211, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Magnus Lofstrom, 2014. "Immigrants and entrepreneurship," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-85, September.
    9. Minniti, Maria & Lévesque, Moren, 2008. "Recent developments in the economics of entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 603-612, November.
    10. William Betz & Nicole Simpson, 2013. "The effects of international migration on the well-being of native populations in Europe," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, December.
    11. Bogan, Vicki & Darity Jr., William, 2008. "Culture and entrepreneurship? African American and immigrant self-employment in the United States," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 1999-2019, October.
    12. Pylypchuk, Yuriy, 2009. "Effects of immigration on the health insurance status of natives," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 1028-1037, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business; entrepreneurship; inequality; immigration; business ownership; self-employment; labor;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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