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The "Negative" Assimilation of Immigrants: A Special Case


  • Chiswick, Barry R.

    () (George Washington University)

  • Miller, Paul W.

    (Curtin University)


Research on the economic or labor market assimilation of immigrants has to date focused on the degree of improvement in their economic status with duration in the destination. This pattern has been found for all the immigrant receiving countries, time periods and data sets that have been studied. The theoretical underpinning for this finding is the international transferability of skills. This paper addresses whether positive assimilation will be found if skills are very highly transferable internationally. It outlines the conditions for “negative” assimilation in the context of the traditional immigration assimilation model, and examines the empirical relevance of the hypothesis using data on immigrants from the English-speaking developed countries (i.e., the UK, Ireland, Canada and Australia/New Zealand) to the United States. Comparisons with the native born are also presented to test whether the findings are sensitive to immigrant cohort quality effects. Even after controlling for cohort effects, “negative” assimilation (a decline in earnings with duration) is found for immigrants in the US from the English-speaking developed countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2008. "The "Negative" Assimilation of Immigrants: A Special Case," IZA Discussion Papers 3563, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3563

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2008. "Why is the payoff to schooling smaller for immigrants?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 1317-1340, December.
    2. 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.
    3. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 2008. "Occupational Attainment and Immigrant Economic Progress in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(s1), pages 45-56, September.
    4. Edward Funkhouser & Stephen J. Trejo, 1995. "The Labor Market Skills of Recent Male Immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 792-811, July.
    5. Beenstock, Michael & Chiswick, Barry R. & Paltiel, Ari, 2005. "Endogenous Assimilation and Immigrant Adjustment in Longitudinal Data," IZA Discussion Papers 1840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Yoram Ben-Porath, 1967. "The Production of Human Capital and the Life Cycle of Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 352-352.
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    Cited by:

    1. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 2008. "Occupational Attainment and Immigrant Economic Progress in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 84(s1), pages 45-56, September.
    2. Dipanwita Sarkar & Trevor Collier, 2016. "Does Host-Country Education Mitigate Immigrant Inefficiency? Evidence from Earnings of Australian University Graduates," QuBE Working Papers 040, QUT Business School.
    3. Sanromá, Esteban & Ramos, Raul & Simón, Hipólito, 2009. "Immigrant Wages in the Spanish Labour Market: Does the Origin of Human Capital Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 4157, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Barry R. Chiswick & Paul W. Miller, 2012. "Negative and Positive Assimilation, Skill Transferability, and Linguistic Distance," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(1), pages 35-55.

    More about this item


    assimilation; earnings; immigrants;

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration

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