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Recent Trends in the Earnings of New Immigrants to the United States

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  • George J. Borjas
  • Rachel M. Friedberg

Abstract

This paper studies long-term trends in the labor market performance of immigrants in the United States, using the 1960-2000 PUMS and 1994-2009 CPS. While there was a continuous decline in the earnings of new immigrants 1960-1990, the trend reversed in the 1990s, with newcomers doing as well in 2000, relative to natives, as they had 20 years earlier. This improvement in immigrant performance is not explained by changes in origin-country composition, educational attainment or state of residence. Changes in labor market conditions, including changes in the wage structure which could differentially impact recent arrivals, can account for only a small portion of it. The upturn appears to have been caused in part by a shift in immigration policy toward high-skill workers matched with jobs, an increase in the earnings of immigrants from Mexico, and a decline in the earnings of native high school dropouts. However, most of the increase remains a puzzle. Results from the CPS suggest that, while average entry wages fell again after 2000, correcting for simple changes in the composition of new immigrants, the unexplained rise in entry wages has persisted.

Suggested Citation

  • George J. Borjas & Rachel M. Friedberg, 2009. "Recent Trends in the Earnings of New Immigrants to the United States," NBER Working Papers 15406, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15406 Note: LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bertoli, Simone & Dequiedt, Vianney & Zenou, Yves, 2016. "Can selective immigration policies reduce migrants' quality?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 100-109.
    2. Andri Chassamboulli & Theodore Palivos, 2014. "A Search‐Equilibrium Approach To The Effects Of Immigration On Labor Market Outcomes," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 55, pages 111-129, February.
    3. Michele Battisti & Gabriel Felbermayr & Giovanni Peri & Panu Poutvaara, 2014. "Immigration, Search, and Redistribution: A Quantitative Assessment of Native Welfare," CESifo Working Paper Series 5022, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. George J. Borjas, 2013. "The Slowdown in the Economic Assimilation of Immigrants: Aging and Cohort Effects Revisited Again," NBER Working Papers 19116, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Abdurrahman Aydemir, 2013. "Skill-based immigrant selection and labor market outcomes by visa category," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 23, pages 432-452 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Andri Chassambouli & Giovanni Peri, 2015. "The Labor Market Effects of Reducing the Number of Illegal Immigrants," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(4), pages 792-821, October.
    7. Li, Qing & Sweetman, Arthur, 2014. "The quality of immigrant source country educational outcomes: Do they matter in the receiving country?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 81-93.
    8. 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.
    9. Aguilar Esteva, Arturo Alberto, 2013. "Stayers and Returners: Educational Self-Selection among U.S. Immigrants and Returning Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 7222, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    10. Osili, Una Okonkwo & Paulson, Anna, 2014. "Crises and confidence: Systemic banking crises and depositor behavior," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(3), pages 646-660.
    11. Andri Chassambouli & Giovanni Peri, 2015. "The Labor Market Effects of Reducing the Number of Illegal Immigrants," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 18(4), pages 792-821, October.
    12. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan, 2016. "Immigration in American Economic History," NBER Working Papers 21882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Green, David A. & Worswick, Christopher, 2012. "Immigrant earnings profiles in the presence of human capital investment: Measuring cohort and macro effects," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 241-259.
    14. Warman, Casey & Worswick, Christopher, 2014. "Technological Change and Declining Immigrant Outcomes, Implications for Income Inequality in Canada," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2014-51, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 25 Nov 2014.
    15. Edward P. Lazear, 2017. "Why Are Some Immigrant Groups More Successful than Others?," NBER Working Papers 23548, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Luik, Marc-André & Steinhardt, Max Friedrich, 2016. "Immigrant-native differences in stockholding – The role of cognitive and non-cognitive skills," Journal of Empirical Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(PA), pages 103-119.
    17. Casey Warman & Christopher Worswick, 2015. "Technological change, occupational tasks and declining immigrant outcomes: Implications for earnings and income inequality in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 48(2), pages 736-772, May.
    18. Soojin Kim, 2014. "The Effects of Labor Migration on Optimal Taxation: An International Tax Competition Analysis," 2014 Meeting Papers 508, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    19. Hanna Wielandt, 2015. "Employment Polarization and Immigrant Employment Opportunities," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2015-025, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.

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    JEL classification:

    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

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