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Workplace Concentration of Immigrants


  • Fredrik Andersson
  • Monica Garcia-Perez
  • John Haltiwanger
  • Kristin McCue
  • Seth Sanders


To what extent do immigrants and the native-born work in separate workplaces? Do worker and employer characteristics explain the degree of workplace concentration? We explore these questions using a matched employer-employee database that extensively covers employers in selected MSAs. We find that immigrants are much more likely to have immigrant coworkers than are natives, and are particularly likely to work with their compatriots. We find much higher levels of concentration for small businesses than for large ones, that concentration varies substantially across industries, and that concentration is particularly high among immigrants with limited English skills. We also find evidence that neighborhood job networks are strongly positively associated with concentration. The effects of networks and language remain strong when type is defined by country of origin rather than simply immigrant status. The importance of these factors varies by immigrant country of origin—for example, not speaking English well has a particularly strong association with concentration for immigrants from Asian countries. Controlling for differences across MSAs, we find that observable employer and employee characteristics account for about half of the difference between immigrants and natives in the likelihood of having immigrant coworkers, with differences in industry, residential segregation and English speaking skills being the most important factors.

Suggested Citation

  • Fredrik Andersson & Monica Garcia-Perez & John Haltiwanger & Kristin McCue & Seth Sanders, 2010. "Workplace Concentration of Immigrants," Working Papers 10-39r, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Nov 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:10-39r

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    • Fredrik Andersson & Mónica García-Pérez & John Haltiwanger & Kristin McCue & Seth Sanders, 2014. "Workplace Concentration of Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(6), pages 2281-2306, December.

    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2015. "Firms and the Economics of Skilled Immigration," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 115-152.
    2. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2015. "Skilled Immigration and the Employment Structures of US Firms," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(S1), pages 147-186.
    3. Fredrik Andersson & Simon Burgess & Julia Lane, 2014. "Do as the Neighbors Do: Examining the Effect of Residential Neighborhoods on Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 35(4), pages 373-392, December.
    4. Glitz, Albrecht, 2014. "Ethnic segregation in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 28-40.
    5. Ana Damas de Matos, 2012. "The Careers of Immigrants," CEP Discussion Papers dp1171, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    6. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2016. "Immigrant Entrepreneurship," NBER Chapters,in: Measuring Entrepreneurial Businesses: Current Knowledge and Challenges, pages 187-249 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Marigee Bacolod & Marcos A. Rangel, 2017. "Economic Assimilation and Skill Acquisition: Evidence From the Occupational Sorting of Childhood Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(2), pages 571-602, April.
    8. Udo Kreickemeier & Jens Wrona, 2017. "Two-Way Migration between Similar Countries," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 182-206, January.
    9. William R. Kerr & Martin Mandorff, 2015. "Social Networks, Ethnicity, and Entrepreneurship," NBER Working Papers 21597, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Magnus Strömgren & Tiit Tammaru & Alexander Danzer & Maarten Ham & Szymon Marcińczak & Olof Stjernström & Urban Lindgren, 2014. "Factors Shaping Workplace Segregation Between Natives and Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(2), pages 645-671, April.
    11. Liliana D. Sousa, 2013. "Human Capital Traps? Enclave Effects Using Linked Employer-Household Data," Working Papers 13-29, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.

    More about this item


    concentration; segregation; immigrant workers; social networks;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • 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
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population


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