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The International Transferability of Immigrants’ Human Capital Skills

  • Chiswick, Barry R.


    (George Washington University)

  • Miller, Paul W.

    (Curtin University)

This paper uses the approach in the under/over education literature to analyze the extent of matching of educational level to occupational attainment among adult native born and foreign born men in the U.S., using the 2000 Census. Overeducation is found to be more common among recent labor market entrants, while undereducation is more likely among older workers. Married men, veterans and those living in metropolitan areas are also more likely to be overeducated. Among immigrants, greater pre-immigration labor market experience is associated with poorer job matches, presumably due to the less than perfect international transferability of skills. A longer duration in the U.S., however, is associated with a lower probability of being overeducated and a greater probability of being undereducated. This is consistent with immigrants being favorably selected for occupational advancement but this effect becomes realized only after overcoming the disadvantages of the less than perfect international transferability of their pre-immigration skills.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2670.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Economics of Education Review, 2009, 28 (2), 162-169
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2670
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  1. Kiker, B. F. & Santos, Maria C. & de Oliveira, M. Mendes, 1997. "Overeducation and undereducation: Evidence for Portugal," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 111-125, April.
  2. Sicherman, Nachum, 1991. ""Overeducation" in the Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 101-22, April.
  3. Mendes de Oliveira, M. & Santos, M. C. & Kiker, B. F., 2000. "The role of human capital and technological change in overeducation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 199-206, April.
  4. Daly, Mary C. & Buchel, Felix & Duncan, Greg J., 2000. "Premiums and penalties for surplus and deficit education: Evidence from the United States and Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 169-178, April.
  5. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1985. "Immigrant Generation and Income in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 61(173), pages 540-53, June.
  6. Rumberger, Russell W., 1981. "The rising incidence of overeducation in the U.S. Labor market," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 293-314, June.
  7. Dustmann, C, 1993. "Earnings Adjustment of Temporary Migrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 153-68, May.
  8. Groot, Wim & Maassen van den Brink, Henriette, 2000. "Overeducation in the labor market: a meta-analysis," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 149-158, April.
  9. McGoldrick, KimMarie & Robst, John, 1996. "Gender Differences in Overeducation: A Test of the Theory of Differential Overqualification," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 280-84, May.
  10. Hartog, Joop, 2000. "Over-education and earnings: where are we, where should we go?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 131-147, April.
  11. Cohn, Elchanan & Khan, Shahina P., 1995. "The wage effects of overschooling revisited," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 67-76, March.
  12. Chiswick, Barry R, 1980. "The Earnings of White and Coloured Male Immigrants in Britain," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 47(185), pages 81-87, February.
  13. Sattinger, Michael, 1993. "Assignment Models of the Distribution of Earnings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 831-80, June.
  14. Séamus McGuinness, 2006. "Overeducation in the Labour Market," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 387-418, 07.
  15. Duncan, Greg J. & Hoffman, Saul D., 1981. "The incidence and wage effects of overeducation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 75-86, February.
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