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The Portability of Human Capital and Immigrant Assimilation: Evidence for Spain

  • Sanromá, Esteban

    ()

    (University of Barcelona)

  • Ramos, Raul

    ()

    (University of Barcelona)

  • Simón, Hipólito

    ()

    (Universidad de Alicante)

The existing literature on immigrant assimilation has highlighted the imperfect portability of human capital acquired by immigrants in their country of origin (Chiswick, 1978; Friedberg, 2000). This would explain the low levels of assimilation upon arrival in the new country, as well as the wide initial earnings gap. Recent studies (Chiswick and Miller, 2007 or Green, Kler and Leeves, 2007, among others) have dealt with this issue from the perspective of over-education. This study analyses the portability of immigrants’ human capital into the Spanish job market according to their geographic origin. It also aims to compare the most notable empirical regularities found in the aforementioned studies with the situation in Spain. The results obtained indicate differing degrees of the transferability of human capital depending on geographic origin, as transferability is greater for countries that are highly developed or have a similar culture or language and lower for developing countries and those with more distant cultures. The evidence is relatively disparate for the two components of human capital as although it is particularly clear for schooling, it is less so for experience. The results also confirm that in Spain immigrants suffer from over-education, in both incidence and intensity, implying a higher relative wage penalty and a greater negative impact on immigrants from the second group of countries. As an immigrant’s stay in Spain advances, a process of assimilation does exist, except for Asians and, in some circumstances, those from Sub-Saharan Africa, though the pace is very slow.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3649.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 'Portability of Human Capital and Immigrant Overeducation in Spain' in: Population Research and Policy Review, 2014, [Online First]
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3649
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  1. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & de la Rica, Sara, 2006. "Labor Market Assimilation of Recent Immigrants in Spain," IZA Discussion Papers 2104, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Esteban Sanromá & Hipólito J. Simón & Raúl Ramos, 2007. "Segregación Laboral Y Estructuras Salariales De Nativos E Inmigrantes En España. Un Análisis Con Datos Emparejados Empresa-Trabajador," Working Papers. Serie EC 2007-03, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  3. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1994. "The Performance of Immigrants in the Canadian Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 369-405, July.
  4. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Assimilation and Changes in Cohort Quality Revisited: What Happened to Immigrant Earnings in the 1980s?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 201-45, April.
  5. Constant, Amelie F. & Massey, Douglas S., 2002. "Self-Selection, Earnings, and Out-Migration: A Longitudinal Study of Immigrants to Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 672, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Fernandez, Cristina & Ortega, Carolina, 2006. "Labour market assimilation of immigrants in Spain: employment at the expense of bad job-matches?," IESE Research Papers D/644, IESE Business School.
  7. 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.
  8. Sicherman, Nachum, 1991. ""Overeducation" in the Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 101-22, April.
  9. 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.
  10. Friedberg, Rachel M, 2000. "You Can't Take It with You? Immigrant Assimilation and the Portability of Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 221-51, April.
  11. Joanne Kathryn Lindley & Pamela Lenton, 2006. "The Over-Education of UK Immigrants: Evidence from the Labour Force Survey," Working Papers 2006001, The University of Sheffield, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2006.
  12. 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.
  13. Duleep, Harriet Orcutt & Regets, Mark C., 1997. "The decline in immigrant entry earnings: Less transferable skills or lower ability?," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 37(Supplemen), pages 189-208.
  14. 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.
  15. Bell, Brian D, 1997. "The Performance of Immigrants in the United Kingdom: Evidence from the GHS," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 333-44, March.
  16. Green, Colin & Kler, Parvinder & Leeves, Gareth, 2007. "Immigrant overeducation: Evidence from recent arrivals to Australia," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 420-432, August.
  17. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2005. "Why Is the Payoff to Schooling Smaller for Immigrants?," IZA Discussion Papers 1731, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. Michael Shields & Stephen Wheatley Price, 1998. "The earnings of male immigrants in England: evidence from the quarterly LFS," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(9), pages 1157-1168.
  19. Ezequiel Uriel Jiménez & Pilar Beneito López & Javier Ferri Carreres & María Luisa Moltó Carbonell, 1996. "Desajuste educativo y formación laboral especializada: efectos sobre los rendimientos salariales," Working Papers. Serie EC 1996-11, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  20. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2007. "The International Transferability of Immigrants’ Human Capital Skills," IZA Discussion Papers 2670, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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