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Assimilation via Prices or Quantities? Labor Market Institutions and Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States

  • Antecol, Heather


    (Claremont McKenna College)

  • Kuhn, Peter J.


    (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Trejo, Stephen


    (University of Texas at Austin)

How do international differences in labor market institutions affect the nature of immigrant earnings assimilation? Using 1980/81 and 1990/91 cross-sections of census data from Australia, Canada, and the United States, we estimate the separate effects of arrival cohort and duration of destination-country residence on immigrant outcomes in each country. Relatively inflexible wages and generous unemployment insurance in Australia suggest that immigrants there might improve themselves primarily through employment gains rather than wage growth, and we find empirically that employment gains explain all of the labor market progress experienced by Australian immigrants. Wages are less rigid in Canada and the United States than in Australia, with the general consensus that the U.S. labor market is the most flexible of the three. We find that wage assimilation is an important source of immigrant earnings growth in both Canada and the United States, but the magnitude of wage assimilation is substantially larger in the United States. These same general patterns remain when we replicate our analyses for two subsamples of immigrants – Europeans and Asians – that are more homogeneous in national origins yet still provide sufficiently large sample sizes for each country.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 802.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2003
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2006, 41 (4), 821-840
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp802
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  1. Joshua D. Angrist & Adriana D. Kugler, 2003. "Protective or counter-productive? labour market institutions and the effect of immigration on eu natives," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(488), pages F302-F331, 06.
  2. Moene, Karl Ove & Wallerstein, Michael, 1997. "Pay Inequality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 403-30, July.
  3. Heather Antecol & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Stephen J. Trejo, 2003. "Immigration Policy and the Skills of Immigrants to Australia, Canada, and the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1).
  4. Bertola, Giuseppe & Rogerson, Richard, 1997. "Institutions and labor reallocation," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(6), pages 1147-1171, June.
  5. Edward Funkhouser, 2000. "Convergence in Employment Rates of Immigrants," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 143-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Barry R. Chiswick & Yinon Cohen & Tzippi Zach, 1997. "The Labor Market Status of Immigrants: Effects of the Unemployment Rate at Arrival and Duration of Residence," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(2), pages 289-303, January.
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  16. Husted, Leif & Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Rosholm, Michael & Smith, Nina, 2000. "Employment and Wage Assimilation of Male First Generation Immigrants in Denmark," IZA Discussion Papers 101, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  17. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-42, March.
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