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Do immigrants work in riskier jobs?


  • Orrenius, Pia M.

    () (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas)

  • Zavodny, Madeline


Recent media and government reports suggest that immigrants are more likely to hold jobs with worse working conditions than U.S.-born workers, perhaps because immigrants work in jobs that "natives don’t want." Despite this widespread view, earlier studies have not found immigrants to be in riskier jobs than natives. This study combines individual-level data from the 2003-2005 American Community Survey with Bureau of Labor Statistics data on work-related injuries and fatalities to take a fresh look at whether foreign-born workers are employed in more dangerous jobs. The results indicate that immigrants are in fact more likely to work in risky jobs than U.S.-born workers, partly due to differences in average characteristics, such as immigrants' lower English language ability and educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2009. "Do immigrants work in riskier jobs?," Working Papers 0901, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:feddwp:0901 Note: Published as: Orrenius, Pia M. and Madeline Zavodny (2009), "Do Immigrants Work in Riskier Jobs?," Demography 46 (3): 535-551.

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    1. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2003.033266_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Holger Bonin & Amelie Constant & Konstantinos Tatsiramos & Klaus Zimmermann, 2012. "Ethnic persistence, assimilation and risk proclivity," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 1(1), pages 1-16, December.
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    4. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-489, October.
    5. Heather Antecol & Kelly Bedard, 2006. "Unhealthy assimilation: Why do immigrants converge to American health status levels?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(2), pages 337-360, May.
    6. Sandy, Robert & Elliott, Robert F, 1996. "Unions and Risk: Their Impact on the Level of Compensation for Fatal Risk," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 291-309, May.
    7. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Vincent A. Hildebrand, 2006. "The Wealth And Asset Holdings Of U.S.-Born And Foreign-Born Households: Evidence From Sipp Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 52(1), pages 17-42, March.
    8. Viscusi, W Kip, 1978. "Wealth Effects and Earnings Premiums for Job Hazards," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(3), pages 408-416, August.
    9. Holger Bonin & Amelie Constant & Konstantinos Tatsiramos & Klaus Zimmermann, 2009. "Native-migrant differences in risk attitudes," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(15), pages 1581-1586.
    10. Frank Bean & B. Lowell & Lowell Taylor, 1988. "Undocumented Mexican immigrants and the earnings of other workers in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 25(1), pages 35-52, February.
    11. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:9:1421-1429_2 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Immigrants; Human capital; Labor economics;

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