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The Effect of Immigration on Native Self-Employment

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  • Robert W. Fairlie
  • Bruce D. Meyer

Abstract

A rapidly growing literature examines the impact of immigrants on the labor market outcomes of native-born Americans. However, the impact of immigration on natives in self-employment has not been examined, despite the over-representation of immigrants in that sector. We first present a new general equilibrium model of self-employment and wage/salary work. For a range of plausible parameter values, the model predicts small negative effects of immigration on native self-employment rates and earnings. Using 1980 and 1990 Census microdata, we then examine the relationship between changes in immigration and native self-employment rates and earnings across 132 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. We find evidence supporting the hypothesis that self-employed immigrants displace self-employed natives. The effects are much larger than those predicted by simulations of the theoretical model. Immigrants, however, do not have a negative effect on native self-employment earnings. Our findings are similar if we weight immigration rates by the propensity of immigrant groups to be self-employed or if we try alternative estimation techniques and specifications.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, 2000. "The Effect of Immigration on Native Self-Employment," NBER Working Papers 7561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7561
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Borjas, George J & Freeman, Richard B & Katz, Lawrence, 1996. "Searching for the Effect of Immigration on the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 246-251, May.
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    4. Rachel M. Friedberg & Jennifer Hunt, 1995. "The Impact of Immigrants on Host Country Wages, Employment and Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
    5. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1994. "Entrepreneurial Decisions and Liquidity Constraints," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 334-347, Summer.
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    9. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
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    11. Devine, Theresa J, 1994. "Changes in Wage-and-Salary Returns to Skill and the Recent Rise in Female Self-Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 108-113, May.
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    13. Robert W. Fairlie, 2000. "Earnings Growth among Young Less-Educated Business Owners," JCPR Working Papers 207, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
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    Cited by:

    1. Minniti, Maria & Lévesque, Moren, 2008. "Recent developments in the economics of entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 603-612, November.
    2. Robert W. Fairlie & Christopher Woodruff, 2007. "Mexican Entrepreneurship: A Comparison of Self-Employment in Mexico and the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 123-158 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marcén, Miriam, 2014. "The role of culture on self-employment," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 44(S1), pages 20-32.
    4. Saiz, Albert, 2007. "Immigration and housing rents in American cities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 345-371, March.
    5. Marcus H. Böhme & Sarah Kups, 2017. "The economic effects of labour immigration in developing countries: A literature review," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 335, OECD Publishing.
    6. Baez, Javier E., 2011. "Civil wars beyond their borders: The human capital and health consequences of hosting refugees," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 391-408, November.
    7. Pylypchuk, Yuriy, 2009. "Effects of immigration on the health insurance status of natives," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(5), pages 1028-1037, September.
    8. Bulent Unel, 2018. "Effects of Immigration on Native Entrepreneurship in the U.S," Departmental Working Papers 2018-01, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
    9. Magnus Lofstrom, 2014. "Immigrants and entrepreneurship," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-85, September.
    10. William Betz & Nicole Simpson, 2013. "The effects of international migration on the well-being of native populations in Europe," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, December.
    11. Constant, Amelie F. & Shachmurove, Yochanan, 2003. "Entrepreneurial Ventures and Wage Differentials Between Germans and Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 879, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Tengeh, Robertson Khan & Ballard, Harry & Slabbert, Andre, 2011. "A framework for acquiring the resources vital for the start-up of a business in South Africa:an African Immigrant’s Perspective," MPRA Paper 34211, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Bogan, Vicki & Darity Jr., William, 2008. "Culture and entrepreneurship? African American and immigrant self-employment in the United States," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 1999-2019, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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