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The careers of immigrants

  • Ana Damas de Matos

I use a unique linked employer employee panel covering all wage earners in the private sector in Portugal to shed new light on the careers of immigrants. During the first ten years in the country immigrants close one third of the initial immigrant-native wage gap. I show that one third of this wage catch-up is accounted for by firm heterogeneity: Immigrants remain in the same occupations but get jobs with better paying _rms. Over time immigrants move to larger, more productive firms and with a higher share of native workers. These patterns are similar for all the recent immigrants irrespective of their origin and in particular of whether their mother tongue is the host country's language. Motivated by these new stylized facts, I suggest an economic assimilation mechanism which highlights imperfect information about immigrant productivity. I build an employer learning model with firm heterogeneity and complementarities between worker and firm type. The initial uncertainty over immigrants' productivity prevents them from getting access to the best jobs. Over time, productivity is revealed and immigrants obtain better firm matches. I derive predictions on the immigrant wage distributions over time, on their mobility patterns and on the productivity distribution of firms they are matched with. The predictions of the model are in line with the data and are not trivially derived from competing explanations.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/51515/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 51515.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:51515
Contact details of provider: Postal: LSE Library Portugal Street London, WC2A 2HD, U.K.
Phone: +44 (020) 7405 7686
Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  2. Darren Lubotsky, 2000. "Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings," Labor and Demography 0004006, EconWPA.
  3. Robert Gibbons & Lawrence F. Katz & Thomas Lemieux & Daniel Parent, 2005. "Comparative Advantage, Learning, and Sectoral Wage Determination," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 681-724, October.
  4. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-88, April.
  5. Farber, Henry S & Gibbons, Robert, 1996. "Learning and Wage Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(4), pages 1007-47, November.
  6. Abdurrahman Aydemir & Mikal Skuterud, 2008. "The Immigrant Wage Differential within and across Establishments," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 61(3), pages 334-352, April.
  7. Pendakur, Krishna & Woodcock, Simon, 2010. "Glass Ceilings or Glass Doors? Wage Disparity Within and Between Firms," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 28(1), pages 181-189.
  8. Fane Groes & Philipp Kircher & Iourii Manovskii, 2015. "The U-Shapes of Occupational Mobility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 659-692.
  9. Fredrik Andersson & Mónica García-Pérez & John C. Haltiwanger & Kristin McCue & Seth Sanders, 2010. "Workplace Concentration of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 16544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Harriet Duleep & Daniel Dowhan, 2002. "Insights from longitudinal data on the earnings growth of U.S. foreign-born men," Demography, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 485-506, August.
  11. Paulo Guimarães & Pedro Portugal, 2009. "A Simple Feasible Alternative Procedure to Estimate Models with High-Dimensional Fixed Effects," Working Papers w200909, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  12. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
  13. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
  14. Zvi Eckstein & Yoram Weiss, 2004. "On The Wage Growth of Immigrants: Israel, 1990-2000," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(4), pages 665-695, 06.
  15. Mark Doms & Eric J. Bartelsman, 2000. "Understanding Productivity: Lessons from Longitudinal Microdata," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 569-594, September.
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