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The Educational Attainment of Immigrants: Trends and Implications

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  • Julian R. Betts
  • Magnus Lofstrom

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Julian R. Betts & Magnus Lofstrom, 1998. "The Educational Attainment of Immigrants: Trends and Implications," NBER Working Papers 6757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6757
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    1. 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.
    2. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-489, October.
    3. Barro, Robert J. & Lee, Jong-Wha, 1993. "International comparisons of educational attainment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 363-394, December.
    4. Friedberg, Rachel M, 2000. "You Can't Take It with You? Immigrant Assimilation and the Portability of Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 221-251, April.
    5. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "On the Labor Market Effects of Immigration and Trade," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 213-244 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Abowd, John M. & Freeman, Richard B. (ed.), 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226000954, December.
    7. 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.
    8. Edward Funkhouser & Stephen J. Trejo, 1995. "The Labor Market Skills of Recent Male Immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Survey," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 48(4), pages 792-811, July.
    9. 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 247-252, May.
    10. 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 231-250, May.
    11. Jaeger, David A & Page, Marianne E, 1996. "Degrees Matter: New Evidence on Sheepskin Effects in the Returns to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 733-740, November.
    12. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1.
    13. 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.
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