Country of Origin and Immigrant Earnings: Evidence from 1960-1990
Using 1960-1990 census microdata, this paper presents two analyses that examine how the initial large differences in immigrant earnings by country of origin change with duration in the United States. The first analysis reveals that country of origin adds less to the explanation of earnings among adult male immigrants the longer they reside in the United States. A second complementary analysis reveals a decrease with time in the United States in the earnings dispersion of demographically comparable immigrants across countries of origin. Both results imply convergence in immigrant earnings by country of origin. We further test the sensitivity of these results to emigration bias—a potentially important, though generally ignored problem in studies of immigrant earnings growth. A theoretical analysis assesses the impact of hypothetical patterns of selective emigration on the two convergence results. We then introduce a technique that could be generally applied as an empirical test for emigration bias in immigrant studies. Both the theoretical and empirical analyses suggest that immigrant earnings convergence by country of origin is not an artifact of emigration.
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