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Why Do Skilled Immigrants Struggle in the Labor Market? A Field Experiment with Six Thousand Resumes

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  • Philip Oreopoulos

Abstract

Thousands of resumes were sent in response to online job postings across multiple occupations in Toronto to investigate why Canadian immigrants, allowed in based on skill, struggle in the labor market. Resumes were constructed to plausibly represent recent immigrants under the point system from the three largest countries of origin (China, India, and Pakistan) and Britain, as well as non-immigrants with and without ethnic-sounding names. In addition to names, I randomized where applicants received their undergraduate degree, whether their job experience was gained in Toronto or Mumbai (or another foreign city), whether they listed being fluent in multiple languages (including French). The study produced four main findings: 1) Interview request rates for English-named applicants with Canadian education and experience were more than three times higher compared to resumes with Chinese, Indian, or Pakistani names with foreign education and experience (5 percent versus 16 percent), but were no different compared to foreign applicants from Britain. 2) Employers valued experience acquired in Canada much more than if acquired in a foreign country. Changing foreign resumes to include only experience from Canada raised callback rates to 11 percent. 3) Among resumes listing 4 to 6 years of Canadian experience, whether an applicant's degree was from Canada or not, or whether the applicant obtained additional Canadian education or not had no impact on the chances for an interview request. 4) Canadian applicants that differed only by name had substantially different callback rates: Those with English-sounding names received interview requests 40 percent more often than applicants with Chinese, Indian, or Pakistani names (16 percent versus 11 percent). Overall, the results suggest considerable employer discrimination against applicants with ethnic names or with experience from foreign firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip Oreopoulos, 2009. "Why Do Skilled Immigrants Struggle in the Labor Market? A Field Experiment with Six Thousand Resumes," NBER Working Papers 15036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15036
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15036.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Picot, Garnett & Sweetman, Arthur, 2005. "The Deteriorating Economic Welfare of Immigrants and Possible Causes: Update 2005," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005262e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    2. Joseph Schaafsma & Arthur Sweetman, 2001. "Immigrant earnings: age at immigration matters," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1066-1099, November.
    3. Charles M. Beach & Alan G. Green & Christopher Worswick, 2007. "Impacts of the Point System and Immigration Policy Levers on Skill Characteristics of Canadian Immigrants," Research in Labor Economics, in: Barry R. Chiswick (ed.),Immigration, volume 27, pages 349-401, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Booth, Alison L. & Leigh, Andrew & Varganova, Elena, 2010. "Does Racial and Ethnic Discrimination Vary Across Minority Groups? Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 4947, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Jacquemet, Nicolas & Yannelis, Constantine, 2012. "Indiscriminate discrimination: A correspondence test for ethnic homophily in the Chicago labor market," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 824-832.
    3. Eva O. Arceo-Gomez & Raymundo M. Campos-Vazquez, 2014. "Race and Marriage in the Labor Market: A Discrimination Correspondence Study in a Developing Country," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 376-380, May.
    4. Krause-Pilatus, Annabelle & Rinne, Ulf & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2010. "Anonymisierte Bewerbungsverfahren," IZA Research Reports 27, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Stefan Eriksson & Jonas Lagerström, 2012. "Detecting discrimination in the hiring process: evidence from an Internet-based search channel," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 537-563, October.
    6. Jason Dean, 2018. "Does it matter if immigrants work in jobs related to their education?," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 8(1), pages 1-42, December.
    7. Siddiqi, Arjumand & Shahidi, Faraz Vahid & Ramraj, Chantel & Williams, David R., 2017. "Associations between race, discrimination and risk for chronic disease in a population-based sample from Canada," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 194(C), pages 135-141.
    8. Mikal Skuterud, 2010. "The visible minority earnings gap across generations of Canadians," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 43(3), pages 860-881, August.
    9. Mahmood Arai & Moa Bursell & Lena Nekby, 2011. "The Reverse Gender Gap in Ethnic Discrimination: Employer Priors against Men and Women with Arabic Names," Working Papers CEB 11-027, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. Dechief, Diane & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2012. "Why do some employers prefer to interview Matthew but not Samir? New evidence from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2012-8, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 19 Feb 2012.
    11. Brahim Boudarbat, 2011. "Labour market integration of immigrants in Quebec: a comparison with Ontario and British Columbia," CIRANO Project Reports 2011rp-09, CIRANO.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J7 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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