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The careers of immigrants

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  • Damas de Matos, Ana

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Damas de Matos, Ana, 2012. "The careers of immigrants," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51515, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:51515
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fredrik Andersson & Mónica García-Pérez & John Haltiwanger & Kristin McCue & Seth Sanders, 2014. "Workplace Concentration of Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(6), pages 2281-2306, December.
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    9. Darren Lubotsky, 2007. "Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 820-867, October.
    10. Harriet Duleep & Daniel Dowhan, 2002. "Insights from longitudinal data on the earnings growth of U.S. foreign-born men," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 39(3), pages 485-506, August.
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    13. Guimaraes, Paulo & Portugal, Pedro, 2009. "A Simple Feasible Alternative Procedure to Estimate Models with High-Dimensional Fixed Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 3935, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Fabian Lange, 2007. "The Speed of Employer Learning," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25, pages 1-35.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Dustmann, 2014. "Selective Outmigration and the Estimation of Immigrants Earnings Profiles," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1402, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    2. Eliasson, Tove, 2013. "Decomposing immigrant wage assimilation - the role of workplaces and occupations," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2013:6, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    3. Nanos, Panagiotis & Schluter, Christian, 2014. "The composition of wage differentials between migrants and natives," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 23-44.
    4. Florian Lehmer & Johannes Ludsteck, 2015. "Wage Assimilation of Foreigners: Which Factors Close the Gap? Evidence From Germany," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 61(4), pages 677-701, December.
    5. Magnus Strömgren & Tiit Tammaru & Alexander Danzer & Maarten Ham & Szymon Marcińczak & Olof Stjernström & Urban Lindgren, 2014. "Factors Shaping Workplace Segregation Between Natives and Immigrants," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 51(2), pages 645-671, April.
    6. Eliasson, Tove, 2013. "Decomposing immigrant wage assimilation - the role of workplaces and occupations," Working Paper Series 2013:7, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    7. Carl Sanders & Rebecca Lessem, 2013. "The Native-Immigrant Wage Gap in the United States," 2013 Meeting Papers 1206, Society for Economic Dynamics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs

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