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How Do Immigrants Spend Their Time? The Process of Assimilation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

    ()

    (Royal Holloway; University of Texas at Austin)

  • Trejo, Stephen

    ()

    (University of Texas at Austin)

Using 2004-2008 data from the American Time Use Survey, we show that sharp differences between the time use of immigrants and natives become noticeable when activities are distinguished by incidence and intensity. We develop a theory of the process of assimilation – what immigrants do with their time – based on the notion that assimilating activities entail fixed costs. The theory predicts that immigrants will be less likely than natives to undertake such activities, but conditional on undertaking them, immigrants will spend more time on them than natives. We identify several activities – purchasing, education and market work – requiring the most interaction with the native world, and these activities more than others fit the theoretical predictions. Additional tests suggest that the costs of assimilating derive from the costs of learning English and from some immigrants’ unfamiliarity with a high-income market economy. A replication using the 1992 Australian Time Use Survey yields remarkably similar results.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5010.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Population Economics, 2013, 26 (2), 507-530
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5010
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  1. David Card, 2005. "Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?," NBER Working Papers 11547, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2007. "Children, Kitchen, Church: Does Ethnicity Matter?," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 727, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2010. "Do Ethnic Minorities "Stretch" Their Time?: Evidence from the UK Time Use Survey," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 999, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  4. Stewart, Jay, 2009. "Tobit or Not Tobit?," IZA Discussion Papers 4588, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Gronau, Reuben, 2007. "The Demand for Variety: A Household Production Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 2767, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. 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.
  7. Rachel Friedberg & David Jaeger, 2009. "The Economic Diversity of Immigration Across the United States," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0931, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  8. Burda, Michael C & Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Weil, Philippe, 2007. "Total Work, Gender and Social Norms," CEPR Discussion Papers 6232, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Christian Dustmann & Francesca Fabbri, 2003. "Language proficiency and labour market performance of immigrants in the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(489), pages 695-717, 07.
  10. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
  11. Michael C Burda & Daniel S Hamermesh & Philippe Weil, 2012. "Total work and gender: facts and possible explanations," Sciences Po publications 2012-03, Sciences Po.
  12. George J. Borjas, 1994. "Assimilation and Changes in Cohort Quality Revisited: What Happened to Immigrant Earnings in the 1980s?," NBER Working Papers 4866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-53, September.
  14. Heather Antecol & Peter Kuhn & Stephen Trejo, 2006. "Assimilation via Prices or Quantities? Sources of Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada and the United States," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0603, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  15. William J. Burke, 2009. "Fitting and interpreting Cragg's tobit alternative using Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(4), pages 584-592, December.
  16. Antecol, Heather & Kuhn, Peter J. & Trejo, Stephen, 2003. "Assimilation via Prices or Quantities? Labor Market Institutions and Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 802, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. 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.
  18. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1995. "The Endogeneity between Language and Earnings: International Analyses," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 246-88, April.
  19. Cragg, John G, 1971. "Some Statistical Models for Limited Dependent Variables with Application to the Demand for Durable Goods," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 39(5), pages 829-44, September.
  20. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Harley Frazis & Jay Stewart, 2005. "Data Watch: The American Time Use Survey," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 221-232, Winter.
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