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Work and Money: Payoffs by Ethnic Identity and Gender

  • Amelie Constant
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann

Upon arrival in the host country, immigrants undergo a fundamental identity crisis. Their ethnic identity being questioned, they can be classified into four states - assimilation, integration, separation and marginalization. This is suggested by the ethnosizer, a newly established measure to parameterize a person's ethnic identity, using individual information on language, culture, societal interaction, history of migration, and ethnic self-identification. In what state individuals end up varies among immigrants even from the same country. Moreover, the quest for ethnic identity affects women and men differentially. This paper contends that ethnic identity can significantly affect the attachment to and performance of immigrants in the host country labor market, beyond human capital and ethnic origin characteristics. Empirical estimates for immigrants in Germany show that ethnic identity is important for the decision to work and significantly and differentially affects the labor force participation of men and women. Women who exhibit the integrated identity are more likely to work than women who are German assimilated; this does not hold for men. However, once we control for selection in the labor market and a slew of individual and labor market characteristics, ethnic identity does not significantly affect the earnings of men or women immigrant workers.

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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 908.

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Length: 31 p.
Date of creation: 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp908
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  1. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2004. "The Economic Value of Cultural Diversity: Evidence from US Cities," NBER Working Papers 10904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Amelie Constant & Liliya Gataullina & Klaus F. Zimmermann & Laura Zimmermann, 2006. "Clash of Cultures: Muslims and Christians in the Ethnosizing Process," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 628, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Amelie Constant & Liliya Gataullina & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2006. "Ethnosizing Immigrants," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 567, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  4. Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1407-18, December.
  5. Constant, Amelie F. & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2007. "Measuring Ethnic Identity and Its Impact on Economic Behavior," IZA Discussion Papers 3063, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Battu, Harminder & Mwale, MacDonald & Zenou, Yves, 2005. "Oppositional Identities and the Labour Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 5351, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Mason, Patrick L., 2004. "Annual income, hourly wages, and identity Among Mexican Americans and other Latinos," MPRA Paper 11326, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Carmel Chiswick, 2009. "The economic determinants of ethnic assimilation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 859-880, October.
  10. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  11. Kuran, Timur, 1998. "Ethnic Norms and Their Transformation through Reputational Cascades," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 623-59, June.
  12. Klaus Zimmermann, 2007. "The economics of migrant ethnicity," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 487-494, July.
  13. Amelie Constant & Rowan Roberts & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2007. "Ethnic Identity and Immigrant Homeownership," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 57, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  14. David Austen-Smith & Roland G. Fryer, 2005. "An Economic Analysis of "Acting White"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 551-583, May.
  15. Bisin, Alberto & Patacchini, Eleonora & Verdier, Thierry & Zenou, Yves, 2006. "'Bend It Like Beckham': Identity, Socialization and Assimilation," CEPR Discussion Papers 5662, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis & Melissa Osborne, 2001. "Incentive-Enhancing Preferences: Personality, Behavior and Earnings," Working Papers 01-01-004, Santa Fe Institute.
  17. Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2007. "Migrant Ethnic Identity: Concept And Policy Implications," Ekonomia, Cyprus Economic Society and University of Cyprus, vol. 10(1), pages 1-17, Summer.
  18. Fearon, James D. & Laitin, David D., 2000. "Violence and the Social Construction of Ethnic Identity," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(04), pages 845-877, September.
  19. Darity, William Jr. & Mason, Patrick L. & Stewart, James B., 2006. "The economics of identity: The origin and persistence of racial identity norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 283-305, July.
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