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The Educational Attainment of Immigrants: Trends and Implications

  • Julian R. Betts
  • Magnus Lofstrom

This paper uses the 1970, 1980, and 1990 U.S. Censuses to study trends in educational attainment of immigrants relative to natives. Immigrants have become relatively less highly educated, but have become more highly educated in an absolute sense. The effects of changes in relative educational attainment between immigrants and natives on earnings are studied. Educational differences are found to explain more than half the observed wage gap between the two groups. The paper also allows for non-linearities in returns to education. Sheepskin effects influence earnings in different ways for natives and immigrants. Differences in returns to pre- and post-migration education also appear. The paper also finds evidence that immigrants crowd natives out of education, although the effects are stronger in secondary than in postsecondary education.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6757.

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Date of creation: Oct 1998
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as The Educational Attainment of Immigrants: Trends and Implications , Julian R. Betts, Magnus Lofstrom. in Issues in the Economics of Immigration , Borjas. 2000
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6757
Note: LS
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  1. Robert J. Barro & Jong-Wha Lee, 1993. "International Comparisons of Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 4349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Loury, Linda Datcher & Garman, David, 1995. "College Selectivity and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 289-308, April.
  3. Rachel M. Friedberg, 1996. "You Can't Take It With You? Immigrant Assimilation and the Portability of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 5837, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. James, Estelle, et al, 1989. "College Quality and Future Earnings: Where Should You Send Your Child to College?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 247-52, May.
  5. Heckman, James & Layne-Farrar, Anne & Todd, Petra, 1996. "Human Capital Pricing Equations with an Application to Estimating the Effect of Schooling Quality on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 562-610, November.
  6. Betts, Julian R, 1995. "Does School Quality Matter? Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 231-50, May.
  7. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
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