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Self-Employment and Earnings among High-Skilled Immigrants in the United States

  • Lofstrom, Magnus


    (Public Policy Institute of California)

This paper uses data from the 1980 and 1990 U.S. Censuses to analyze the labor market experience of high-skilled immigrants relative to high-skilled natives. Immigrants are found to be more likely to be working in one of the high-skilled occupations than natives, but the gap between the two groups decreased in the 1980’s. Given the high self-employment rates of this group of workers, about 20 percent, it is important to study this aspect of the labor market experience. High-skilled natives are more likely to be self-employed than high-skilled immigrants. Models of the self-employment decision, controlling for differences in socio-economic background, occupation, regional differences in immigrant population proportions, national origin and ethnicity, are estimated. Evidence of positive enclave effects on self-employment probabilities is found. Predicted earnings of self-employed immigrants are higher throughout most of their work life relative to wage/salary immigrants and natives, as well as compared to self-employed natives. Furthermore, there appears to be very little difference in predicted earnings across national origin group of self-employed immigrants. The low variation in predicted earnings across country of origin groups is not found for wage/salary immigrants.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 175.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Cornelius, W. A. / Espenshade, T. J. (eds.), The International Migration of the Highly Skilled: Demand, Supply and Development Consequences, La Jolla, CA, 163-195
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp175
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  1. Julian R. Betts & Magnus Lofstrom, 1998. "The Educational Attainment of Immigrants: Trends and Implications," NBER Working Papers 6757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Joseph Altonji & David Card, 1989. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcome of Less-Skilled Natives," Working Papers 636, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
  4. Magnus Lofstrom, 2002. "Labor market assimilation and the self-employment decision of immigrant entrepreneurs," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 83-114.
  5. George J. Borjas, 1986. "The Self-Employment Experience of Immigrants," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(4), pages 485-506.
  6. Carliner, Geoffrey, 1980. "Wages, Earnings and Hours of First, Second, and Third Generation American Males," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 18(1), pages 87-102, January.
  7. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  8. Joseph G. Altonji & David Card, 1989. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Natives," NBER Working Papers 3123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, 1996. "Ethnic and Racial Self-Employment Differences and Possible Explanations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 757-793.
  10. 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 463-89, October.
  11. Andrew M. Yuengert, 1995. "Testing Hypotheses of Immigrant Self-Employment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 194-204.
  12. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, December.
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