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Can an Ethnic Group Climb Up from the Bottom of the Ladder?


  • Epstein, Gil S.

    () (Bar-Ilan University)

  • Siniver, Erez

    () (College of Management, Rishon Lezion Campus)


Studies in the US have shown that black immigrants have remained at the bottom of the wage ladder and that other groups of immigrants have overtaken them over time. The goal of this research is to determine whether a specific group of immigrants can displace a group at the bottom of the ladder. We use Israeli data to compare two ethnic groups: Israeli Arabs and Ethiopian immigrants. Israeli Arabs were considered to be the least successful ethnic group in the Israeli labor market until they were displaced by the Ethiopian immigrants. The results of our analysis show that an ethnic group at the bottom of the wage ladder can be replaced by another.

Suggested Citation

  • Epstein, Gil S. & Siniver, Erez, 2012. "Can an Ethnic Group Climb Up from the Bottom of the Ladder?," IZA Discussion Papers 6796, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6796

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McManus, Walter S, 1985. "Labor Market Costs of Language Disparity: An Interpretation of Hispanic Earnings Differences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 818-827, September.
    2. Epstein, Gil S & Lecker, Tikva, 2001. "Multi-Generation Model of Immigrant Earnings: Theory and Application," CEPR Discussion Papers 2750, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Gil S. Epstein & Ira N. Gang, 2010. "Migration and Culture," Working Papers 2010-17, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
    4. 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.
    5. Nasser Daneshvary & R. Schwer, 1994. "Black immigrants in the U.S. labor market: An earnings analysis," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 77-98, March.
    6. Sarit Cohen-Goldner & Zvi Eckstein, 2008. "Labor Mobility Of Immigrants: Training, Experience, Language, And Opportunities," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(3), pages 837-872, August.
    7. Gilles Grenier, 1984. "The Effects of Language Characteristics on the Wages of Hispanic-American Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 19(1), pages 35-52.
    8. Barry R. Chiswick, 1998. "Hebrew language usage: Determinants and effects on earnings among immigrants in Israel," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 11(2), pages 253-271.
    9. Epstein, Gil S. & Gang, Ira N., 2010. "A Political Economy of the Immigrant Assimilation: Internal Dynamics," IZA Discussion Papers 5059, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Thomas Bauer & Gil S. Epstein & Ira N. Gang, 2009. "Measuring ethnic linkages among migrants," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 30(1/2), pages 56-69, March.
    11. Chiswick, Barry R, 1991. "Speaking, Reading, and Earnings among Low-Skilled Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(2), pages 149-170, April.
    12. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    13. Epstein, Gil S., 2002. "Informational Cascades and Decision to Migrate," IZA Discussion Papers 445, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Berman, Eli & Lang, Kevin & Siniver, Erez, 2003. "Language-skill complementarity: returns to immigrant language acquisition," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 265-290, June.
    15. McManus, Walter & Gould, William & Welch, Finis, 1983. "Earnings of Hispanic Men: The Role of English Language Proficiency," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(2), pages 101-130, April.
    16. Cohen-Goldner, Sarit & Eckstein, Zvi, 2010. "Estimating the return to training and occupational experience: The case of female immigrants," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 86-105, May.
    17. Geoffrey Carliner, 1995. "The Language Ability of U.S. Immigrants: Assimilation and Cohort Effects," NBER Working Papers 5222, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Geoffrey Carliner, 1981. "Wage Differences by Language Group and the Market for Language Skills in Canada," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 16(3), pages 384-399.
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    Cited by:

    1. Epstein, Gil S. & Gafni, Dalit & Siniver, Erez, 2014. "Even Education and Experience Has Its Limits: Closing the Wage Gap," IZA Discussion Papers 8737, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    immigrants; wage differences;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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