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The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: Evidence from the United States

Author

Listed:
  • Francine D. Blau
  • Lawrence M. Kahn
  • Joan Y. Moriarty
  • Andre Portela Souza

Abstract

We use Census of Population microdata for 1980 and 1990 to examine the labor supply and wages of immigrant husbands and wives in the United States in a family context. Earlier research by Baker and Benjamin (1997) posits a family investment model in which, upon arrival, immigrant husbands invest in their human capital while immigrant wives work to provide the family with liquidity during this period. Consistent with this model, they find for Canada that immigrant wives work longer hours upon arrival than comparable natives, but, with time in Canada, they are eventually overtaken by native wives. In contrast, we find that, among immigrants to the United States, both husbands and wives work and earn less than comparable natives upon arrival, with similar shortfalls for men and women. Further, both immigrant husbands and wives have similar, positive assimilation profiles in wages and labor supply and eventually overtake both the wages and the labor supply of comparable natives.

Suggested Citation

  • Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Joan Y. Moriarty & Andre Portela Souza, 2002. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: Evidence from the United States," NBER Working Papers 9051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9051
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1992. "The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U. S. Labor Market," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 67-92 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Francine D. Blau, 1992. "The Fertility of Immigrant Women: Evidence from High-Fertility Source Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 93-134 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M, 1997. "Wage Inequality and Family Labor Supply," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 72-97, January.
    4. Blundell, Richard & Macurdy, Thomas, 1999. "Labor supply: A review of alternative approaches," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 27, pages 1559-1695 Elsevier.
    5. Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709.
    6. David Card & Richard B. Freeman, 1993. "Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number card93-1, July.
    7. George J. Borjas, 1993. "Immigration Policy, National Origin, and Immigrant Skills: A Comparison of Canada and the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 21-44 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Edward Funkhouser, 2000. "Convergence in Employment Rates of Immigrants," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 143-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Card, David & Freeman, Richard B. (ed.), 1993. "Small Differences That Matter," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226092836, June.
    12. Harriet Orcutt Duleep & Seth Sanders, 1993. "The Decision to Work by Married Immigrant Women," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 46(4), pages 677-690, July.
    13. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1997. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 705-727, September.
    14. Jacob Mincer, 1962. "Labor Force Participation of Married Women: A Study of Labor Supply," NBER Chapters,in: Aspects of Labor Economics, pages 63-105 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Richard B. Freeman & Karen Needels, 1993. "Skill Differentials in Canada in an Era of Rising Labor Market Inequality," NBER Chapters,in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 45-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman, 1992. "Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number borj92-1, July.
    17. Johnson, William R & Skinner, Jonathan, 1986. "Labor Supply and Marital Separation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(3), pages 455-469, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarit Cohen-Goldner & Chemi Gotlibovski & Nava Kahana, 2009. "The role of marriage in immigrants’ human capital investment under liquidity constraints," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(4), pages 983-1003, October.
    2. Christian Dustmann & Francesca Fabbri, 2005. "Gender and Ethnicity--Married Immigrants in Britain," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(3), pages 462-484, Autumn.
    3. Basilio, Leilanie & Bauer, Thomas K. & Sinning, Mathias, 2009. "Analyzing the labor market activity of immigrant families in Germany," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 510-520, October.
    4. A. Zaiceva, 2007. "East-West migration and gender: Is there a "double disadvantage" vis-à-vis stayers?," Working Papers 608, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    5. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2007. "Gender and Assimilation Among Mexican Americans," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 57-106 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2011. "Economic Impacts of Immigration: A Survey," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 1-32, Spring.
    7. Blau, Francine D. & Kahn, Lawrence M. & Papps, Kerry L., 2008. "Gender, Source Country Characteristics and Labor Market Assimilation among Immigrants: 1980-2000," IZA Discussion Papers 3725, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Cobb-Clark, Deborah & Crossley, Thomas F., 2004. "Revisiting the family investment hypothesis," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 373-393, June.
    9. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Changes in the Labor Supply Behavior of Married Women: 1980-2000," NBER Working Papers 11230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Purvi Sevak & Lucie Schmidt, 2007. "How do Immigrants Fare in Retirement?," Working Papers wp169, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    11. Deborah Cobb-Clark & Steven Stillman, 2008. "Emigration and the Age Profile of Retirement Among Immigrants," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0815, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    12. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Joan Y. Moriarty & Andre Portela Souza, 2003. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 429-447, March.
    13. Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Smith, Nina & Celikaksoy, Aycan, 2007. "The Effect of Marriage on Education of Immigrants: Evidence from a Policy Reform Restricting Spouse Import," IZA Discussion Papers 2899, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor

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