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The Immigrant Earnings Disadvantage Across the Earnings and Skills Distributions: The Case of Immigrants from the EU's New Member States in Ireland


  • Alan Barrett

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Seamus McGuinness

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))

  • Martin O'Brien

    (Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI))


As the movement of population from the New Member States (NMS) of the EU to the older members is a relatively new flow, it is important to build up our knowledge of who is moving within Europe and how they are performing in their destinations. In this paper, we analyse the earnings of immigrants in Ireland from the NMS using a new large-scale dataset on employees in Ireland. In so doing, we add to the emerging strand in the literature on immigrant earnings that looks beyond average earnings differentials and considers variations in such differentials across the earnings and skills distributions. We do this partly by using quantile regressions and also by analyzing earnings differentials within educational categories. We find that the average earnings difference between immigrants from the NMS and natives is between 10 percent and 18 percent, depending on the controls used. However, the difference is found to be either non-existent or low for people with low skill levels and for people at the lower end of the earnings distribution. The difference is higher for those at the upper ends of the skills and earnings distributions. This suggests that the transferability of human capital is a crucial determinant of the immigrant-native earnings gap for NMS immigrants in Ireland.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan Barrett & Seamus McGuinness & Martin O'Brien, 2008. "The Immigrant Earnings Disadvantage Across the Earnings and Skills Distributions: The Case of Immigrants from the EU's New Member States in Ireland," Papers WP236, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:esr:wpaper:wp236

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. FitzGerald, John & Bergin, Adele & Conefrey, Thomas & Diffney, Sean & Duffy, David & Kearney, Ide & Lyons, Sean & Malaguzzi Valeri, Laura & Mayor, Karen & Richard S. J. Tol, 2008. "Medium-Term Review 2008-2015, No. 11," Forecasting Report, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number MTR11.
    2. Kahanec, Martin, 2012. "Report No. 49: Skilled Labor Flows: Lessons from the European Union," IZA Research Reports 49, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Martti Randveer & Tairi Room, 2009. "The structure of migration in Estonia: survey-based evidence," Bank of Estonia Working Papers 2009-01, Bank of Estonia, revised 14 Jul 2009.
    4. McGuinness, Seamus & Byrne, Delma, 2014. "Examining the Relationships between Labour Market Mismatches, Earnings and Job Satisfaction among Immigrant Graduates in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 8440, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Hazans, Mihails & Philips, Kaia, 2011. "The Post-Enlargement Migration Experience in the Baltic Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 5878, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Mary J. Keeney, 2010. "A Quality Adjusted Measure of Labour Services for Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 41(2), pages 149-172.
    7. Martti Randveer & Tairi Rõõm, 2011. "The Structure of Migration in Estonia: Survey-Based Evidence," Research in Economics and Business: Central and Eastern Europe, Tallinn School of Economics and Business Administration, Tallinn University of Technology, vol. 3(1).

    More about this item


    Immigrant earnings; Ireland; New Member States; Quantile regression;

    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

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