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Substitution Between Individual and Cultural Capital: Pre-Migration Labor Supply, Culture and US Labor Market Outcomes Among Immigrant Woman


  • Blau, Francine D.

    () (Cornell University)

  • Kahn, Lawrence M.

    () (Cornell University)


In this paper we use New Immigrant Survey data to investigate the impact of immigrant women's own labor supply prior to migrating and female labor supply in their source country to provide evidence on the role of human capital and culture in affecting their labor supply and wages in the United States. We find, as expected, that women who migrate from countries with relatively high levels of female labor supply work more in the United States. Moreover, most of this effect remains when we further control for each woman’s own labor supply prior to migrating, which itself also strongly affects labor supply in the United States. Importantly, we find a significantly negative interaction between pre-migration labor supply and source country female labor supply. We obtain broadly similar effects analyzing the determinants of hourly earnings among the employed in the United States, although the results are not always significant. These results suggest an important role for culture and norms in affecting immigrant women's labor supply, since the effect of source country female labor supply on immigrant women's US work hours is still strong even controlling for the immigrant’s own pre-migration labor supply. The negative interaction effects between previous work experience and source country female labor supply on women's US work hours and wages suggest that cultural capital and individual job-related human capital act as substitutes in affecting preparedness for work in the US.

Suggested Citation

  • Blau, Francine D. & Kahn, Lawrence M., 2011. "Substitution Between Individual and Cultural Capital: Pre-Migration Labor Supply, Culture and US Labor Market Outcomes Among Immigrant Woman," IZA Discussion Papers 5890, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5890

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli, 2006. "Fertility: The Role of Culture and Family Experience," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 552-561, 04-05.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bredtmann, Julia & Otten, Sebastian, 2013. "The Role of Source- and Host-Country Characteristics in Female Immigrant Labor Supply," MPRA Paper 44544, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Francine Blau & Lawrence Kahn & Albert Liu & Kerry Papps, 2013. "The transmission of women’s fertility, human capital, and work orientation across immigrant generations," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 405-435, April.
    3. Stichnoth, Holger & Yeter, Mustafa, 2013. "Cultural influences on the fertility behaviour of first- and second-generation immigrants in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 13-023, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    4. Raymundo Miguel Campos-Vazquez & Roberto Velez-Grajales, 2014. "Female Labour Supply and Intergenerational Preference Formation: Evidence for Mexico," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(4), pages 553-569, December.
    5. Blau, Francine D. & Kahn, Lawrence M., 2012. "Immigration and the Distribution of Incomes," IZA Discussion Papers 6921, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    human capital; labor supply; immigration; gender;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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