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Immigrants Assimilate as Communities, Not Just as Individuals

  • Hatton, Timothy J.

    ()

    (University of Essex)

  • Leigh, Andrew

    ()

    (Australian National University)

There is a large econometric literature that examines the economic assimilation of immigrants in the United States and elsewhere. On the whole immigrants are seen as atomistic individuals assimilating in a largely anonymous labour market, a view that runs counter to the spirit of the equally large literature on ethnic groups. Here we argue that immigrants assimilate as communities, not just as individuals. The longer the immigrant community has been established the better adjusted it is to the host society and the more the host society comes to accept that ethnic group. Thus economic outcomes for immigrants should depend not just on their own characteristics, but also on the legacy of past immigration from the same country. In this paper we test this hypothesis using data from a 5 percent sample of the 1980, 1990 and 2000 US censuses. We find that history matters in immigrant assimilation: the stronger is the tradition of immigration from a given source country, the better the economic outcomes for new immigrants from that source.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2538.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Population Economics, 2011, 24 (2), 389-419
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2538
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  1. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 2006. "A Dual Policy Paradox: Why Have Trade and Immigration Policies Always Differed in Labour-Scarce Economies?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5443, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Amelie Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2007. "Measuring Ethnic Identity and Its Impact on Economic Behavior," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 47, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
  3. Lofstrom, Magnus, 2000. "Self-Employment and Earnings among High-Skilled Immigrants in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 175, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F.P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1999. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," JCPR Working Papers 62, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  5. Åslund, Olof & Edin, Per-Anders & Fredriksson, Peter, 2001. "Ethnic Enclaves and the Economic Success of Immigrants - Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 2729, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. repec:iza:izadps:dp1142 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Barro, Robert J & Lee, Jong-Wha, 2001. "International Data on Educational Attainment: Updates and Implications," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 541-63, July.
  8. Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2008. "Global Migration and the World Economy: Two Centuries of Policy and Performance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582775, June.
  9. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-53, September.
  10. Timothy J. Hatton, 2000. "How much did immigrant "quality" decline in late nineteenth century America?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 13(3), pages 509-525.
  11. Alberto Bisin & Giorgio Topa & Thierry Verdier, 2004. "Religious Intermarriage and Socialization in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 615-664, June.
  12. Michèle V. K. Belot & Timothy J. Hatton, 2012. "Immigrant Selection in the OECD," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 114(4), pages 1105-1128, December.
  13. James P. Smith, 2005. "Immigrants and the Labor Market," Working Papers 321, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
  14. Amelie Constant & Liliya Gataullina & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2006. "Ethnosizing Immigrants," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 567, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  15. George J. Borjas & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "The Evolution of the Mexican-Born Workforce in the United States," NBER Working Papers 11281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  17. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Diversity and Immigration," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 117-142 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. B.R. Chiswick & P.W. Miller, 2000. "Do Enclaves Matter in Immigrant Adjustment?," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 00-19, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  19. 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.
  20. Minns, Chris, 2000. "Income, Cohort Effects, and Occupational Mobility: A New Look at Immigration to the United States at the Turn of the 20th Century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 326-350, October.
  21. Akee, Randall K. Q. & Yuksel, Mutlu, 2008. "A Note on Measures of Human Capital for Immigrants: Examining the American Community Survey and New Immigrant Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 3897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. George J. Borjas, 2006. "Native Internal Migration and the Labor Market Impact of Immigration," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  23. George J. Borjas, 1991. "Ethnic Capital and Intergenerational Mobility," NBER Working Papers 3788, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Xin Meng & Robert G. Gregory, 2005. "Intermarriage and the Economic Assimilation of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 135-176, January.
  25. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," NBER Working Papers 5163, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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