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On the Wage Growth of Immigrants: Israel, 1990-2000

  • Eckstein, Zvi
  • Weiss, Yoram

This Paper develops a descriptive methodology for the analysis of wage growth of immigrants, based on human capital theory. The sources of the wage growth are: (i) the rise of the return to imported human capital; (ii) the impact of accumulated experience in the host country; and, (iii) the mobility up the occupational ladder in the host country. Using human capital theory, we derive a non-linear model that imposes restrictions across the earning equations of natives and immigrants. The two earning functions are estimated jointly, using repeated cross section data. Using data on immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel, we find: Upon arrival, immigrants receive no return for imported skills. In the ten years following arrival, wages of highly skilled immigrants grow at 8% a year. Rising prices of skills, occupational transitions, accumulated experience in Israel and economy-wide rise in wages account for 3.4, 1.1, 1.5 and 1.4% each. In the long run, the return for schooling converges to .028, substantially below the .069 for natives. We do not reject the hypothesis that the return for experience converges to that of natives, and immigrants receive higher return for their unmeasured skills. We find that there is some downgrading in occupational distribution of immigrants relative to that of natives. Moreover, the average wages of immigrants approach but do not converge to the wages of comparable natives. The main reason for that is the low return to their imported skills.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 3770.

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Date of creation: Feb 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3770
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  1. Cohen Goldner, Sarit & Eckstein, Zvi, 2002. "Labor Mobility of Immigrants: Training, Experience, Language and Opportunities," IZA Discussion Papers 519, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  3. George J. Borjas, 2000. "The Economic Progress of Immigrants," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 15-50 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  6. 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.
  7. Farber, Henry S & Gibbons, Robert, 1996. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1007-47, November.
  8. Caballe, Jordi & Santos, Manuel S, 1993. "On Endogenous Growth with Physical and Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 1042-67, December.
  9. Weiss, Y. & Gotlibovski, M., 1995. "Immigration, Search and Loss of Kill," Papers 34-95, Tel Aviv.
  10. Blinder, Alan S & Weiss, Yoram, 1976. "Human Capital and Labor Supply: A Synthesis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(3), pages 449-72, June.
  11. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  12. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-19, December.
  13. James J. Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explorations with a Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings with Heterogeneous Agents," NBER Working Papers 6384, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. LaLonde, Robert J & Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Immigrants in the American Labor Market: Quality, Assimilation, and Distributional Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 297-302, May.
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