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

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  • 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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    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. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Cobb-Clark, Deborah & Crossley, Thomas F., 2004. "Revisiting the family investment hypothesis," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 373-393, June.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn & Kerry L. Papps, 2008. "Gender, Source Country Characteristics and Labor Market Assimilation Among Immigrants: 1980-2000," NBER Working Papers 14387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Zaiceva, Anzelika, 2007. "East-West Migration and Gender: Is there a “Double Disadvantage” vis-à-vis Stayers?," IZA Discussion Papers 2810, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Purvi Sevak & Lucie Schmidt, 2007. "How do Immigrants Fare in Retirement?," Working Papers wp169, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
    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 of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    JEL classification:

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

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