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What Explains the Wealth Gap Between Immigrants and the New Zealand Born?


  • John Gibson

    () (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research)

  • Trinh Le

    () (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research)

  • Steven Stillman

    () (Motu Economic and Public Policy Research)


Immigrants are typically found to have less wealth and hold it in different forms than the native born. These differences may affect both the economic assimilation of immigrants and overall portfolio allocation when immigrants are a large share of the population, as in New Zealand. In this paper, data from the 2001 Household Savings Survey are used to examine wealth differences between immigrants and the New Zealand-born. Differences in the allocation of portfolios between housing and other forms of wealth are described. Unconditional and conditional wealth quantiles are examined using parametric models. Semiparametric methods are used to decompose differences in net worth at different parts of the wealth distribution into the part due to differences in characteristics and the part due to differences in the returns to characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • John Gibson & Trinh Le & Steven Stillman, 2007. "What Explains the Wealth Gap Between Immigrants and the New Zealand Born?," Working Papers 07_12, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:mtu:wpaper:07_12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. DiNardo, John & Fortin, Nicole M & Lemieux, Thomas, 1996. "Labor Market Institutions and the Distribution of Wages, 1973-1992: A Semiparametric Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1001-1044, September.
    2. repec:zbw:rwirep:0006 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Nancy A. Jianakoplos & Paul L. Menchik, 1997. "Wealth Mobility," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(1), pages 18-31, February.
    4. Thomas K. Bauer & Deborah A. Cobb‐Clark & Vincent A. Hildebrand & Mathias G. Sinning, 2011. "A Comparative Analysis Of The Nativity Wealth Gap," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(4), pages 989-1007, October.
    5. Maury Gittleman & Edward N. Wolff, 2004. "Racial Differences in Patterns of Wealth Accumulation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
    6. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Vincent A. Hildebrand, 2006. "The Wealth And Asset Holdings Of U.S.-Born And Foreign-Born Households: Evidence From Sipp Data," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 52(1), pages 17-42, March.
    7. Barsky R. & Bound J. & Charles K.K. & Lupton J.P., 2002. "Accounting for the Black-White Wealth Gap: A Nonparametric Approach," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 97, pages 663-673, September.
    8. Joop Hartog & Rainer Winkelmann, 2003. "Comparing migrants to non-migrants: The case of Dutch migration to New Zealand," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 16(4), pages 683-705, November.
    9. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Vincent A. Hildebrand, 2006. "The Wealth of Mexican Americans," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
    10. Statistics Canada, 2003. "The Wealth Position of Immigrant Families in Canada," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2003197e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    11. John Gibson, 2000. "Sheepskin effects and the returns to education in New Zealand: Do they differ by ethnic groups?," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(2), pages 201-220.
    12. Oaxaca, Ronald L. & Ransom, Michael R., 1994. "On discrimination and the decomposition of wage differentials," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 5-21, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sierminska, Eva M. & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2010. "Examining the gender wealth gap," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 669-690.
    2. Sinning, Mathias, 2007. "Wealth and Asset Holdings of Immigrants in Germany," Ruhr Economic Papers 30, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    3. Sierminska, Eva & Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2008. "Examining the Gender Wealth Gap in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 3573, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Rob Hodgson & Jacques Poot, 2011. "New Zealand Research on the Economic Impacts of Immigration 2005-2010: Synthesis and Research Agenda," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1104, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    5. Mathä, Thomas Y. & Porpiglia, Alessandro & Sierminska, Eva, 2011. "The immigrant/native wealth gap in Germany, Italy and Luxembourg," Working Paper Series 1302, European Central Bank.
    6. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Hildebrand, Vincent A., 2008. "The Asset Portfolios of Native-Born and Foreign-Born Households," IZA Discussion Papers 3304, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Denise Doiron & Rochelle Guttmann, 2009. "Wealth Distributions of Migrant and Australian-born Households," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 85(268), pages 32-45, March.
    8. Esenaliev, Damir & Steiner, Susan, 2014. "Ethnicity and the distribution of welfare: Evidence from southern Kyrgyzstan," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 970-982.

    More about this item


    Immigration; Portfolios; Semiparametric Decomposition; Wealth;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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