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The impact of low-skilled immigration on the youth labor market

Listed author(s):
  • Christopher L. Smith

The employment-to-population rate of high-school aged youth has fallen by about 20 percentage points since the late 1980s. The human capital implications of this decline depend on the reasons behind it. In this paper, I demonstrate that growth in the number of less-educated immigrants may have considerably reduced youth employment rates. This finding stands in contrast to previous research that generally identifies, at most, a modest negative relationship across states or cities between immigration levels and adult labor market outcomes. At least two factors are at work: there is greater overlap between the jobs that youth and less-educated adult immigrants traditionally do, and youth labor supply is more responsive to immigration-induced changes in their wage. Despite a slight increase in schooling rates in response to immigration, I find little evidence that reduced employment rates are associated with higher earnings ten years later in life. This raises the possibility that an immigration-induced reduction in youth employment, on net, hinders youths' human capital accumulation.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2010-03.

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Date of creation: 2010
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2010-03
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  1. David Card, 1990. "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
  2. Patricia Cortes, 2008. "The Effect of Low-Skilled Immigration on U.S. Prices: Evidence from CPI Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 381-422, 06.
  3. Finis Welch, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," UCLA Economics Working Papers 146, UCLA Department of Economics.
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  5. V. Joseph Hotz & Lixin Colin Xu & Marta Tienda & Avner Ahituv, 2002. "Are There Returns To The Wages Of Young Men From Working While In School?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(2), pages 221-236, May.
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  7. John H. Tyler, 2003. "Using State Child Labor Laws to Identify the Effect of School-Year Work on High School Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 353-380, April.
  8. Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2012. "Rethinking The Effect Of Immigration On Wages," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 152-197, 02.
  9. Gerald S. Oettinger, 1999. "Does High School Employment Affect High School Academic Performance?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(1), pages 136-151, October.
  10. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1997. "Is High School Employment Consumption or Investment?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(4), pages 735-776, October.
  11. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Berger, Mark C., 1988. "Cohort size effects on earnings: Differences by college major," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 375-383, August.
  13. Klevmarken, N Anders, 1993. "Demographics and the Dynamics of Earnings," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 6(2), pages 105-122, May.
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  15. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1335-1374.
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