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How Do Immigrants Spend Their Time? The Process of Assimilation

Author

Listed:
  • Hamermesh, Daniel S.

    () (Barnard College)

  • Trejo, Stephen

    () (University of Texas at Austin)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Trejo, Stephen, 2010. "How Do Immigrants Spend Their Time? The Process of Assimilation," IZA Discussion Papers 5010, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5010
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Reuben Gronau & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 2008. "The Demand for Variety: A Household Production Perspective," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 562-572, August.
    2. 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.
    3. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus Zimmermann, 2014. "Children, Kitchen, Church: does ethnicity matter?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 83-103, March.
    4. Michael Burda & Daniel Hamermesh & Philippe Weil, 2013. "Total work and gender: facts and possible explanations," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(1), pages 239-261, January.
    5. 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.
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    7. 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 463-489, October.
    8. David Card, 2005. "Is the New Immigration Really so Bad?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(507), pages 300-323, November.
    9. Michael C Burda & Daniel S Hamermesh & Philippe Weil, 2007. "Total Work, Gender and Social Norms," Working Papers hal-00972818, HAL.
    10. Stewart, Jay, 2013. "Tobit or not Tobit?," Journal of Economic and Social Measurement, IOS Press, issue 3, pages 263-290.
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    12. Heather Antecol & Peter Kuhn & Stephen J. Trejo, 2006. "Assimilation via Prices or Quantities?: Sources of Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
    13. 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, July.
    14. 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.
    15. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    16. 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.
    17. 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 201-245, April.
    18. 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).
    19. William J. Burke, 2009. "Fitting and interpreting Cragg's tobit alternative using Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(4), pages 584-592, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus Zimmermann, 2014. "Children, Kitchen, Church: does ethnicity matter?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 83-103, March.
    2. Holger Stichnoth, 2013. "Reference standards for income comparisons: evidence from immigrants' return visits," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 33(4), pages 2707-2717.
    3. David C. Ribar, 2013. "Immigrants’ time use: a survey of methods and evidence," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 20, pages 373-392 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Florence Neymotin, 2016. "Individuals and Communities: the Importance of Neighbors Volunteering," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 149-178, June.
    5. Anzelika Zaiceva & Klaus Zimmermann, 2011. "Do ethnic minorities “stretch” their time? UK household evidence on multitasking," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 181-206, June.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    incidence; fixed costs; time use; intensity;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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