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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Eckstein, Zvi & Weiss, Yoram, 2003. "On the Wage Growth of Immigrants: Israel, 1990-2000," CEPR Discussion Papers 3770, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:3770

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    3. Yoram Weiss & Robert M. Sauer & Menachem Gotlibovski, 2003. "Immigration, Search, and Loss of Skill," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(3), pages 557-592, July.
    4. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
    5. 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 1042-1067, December.
    6. 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 449-472, June.
    7. 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.
    8. 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 463-489, October.
    9. Sarit Cohen-Goldner & Zvi Eckstein, 2008. "Labor Mobility Of Immigrants: Training, Experience, Language, And Opportunities," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(3), pages 837-872, August.
    10. 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 1211-1219, December.
    11. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
    12. 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.
    13. 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 410-442, June.
    14. Henry S. Farber & Robert Gibbons, 1996. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1007-1047.
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    More about this item


    absorption; convergence; immigrants; occupations; wages;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General


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