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Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings

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  • Darren Lubotsky

    (Princeton University)

Abstract

This study uses Social Security earnings records matched to recent cross{sections of the SIPP and CPS to study the earnings progress of U.S. immigrants. The data show that immigrants' earnings grow 10 to 13 percent during their first twenty years in the U.S. relative to the earnings of natives with similar labor market experience. By comparison, estimates of immigrants' relative wage growth from cross{sections of the decennial Census are substantially higher. The divergent results reflect the selective outmigration of low{earning immigrants. The longitudinal earnings histories also show that 14 percent of immigrants have earnings in the U.S. prior to their most recent date of arrival, which points to a significant amount of back{and{forth migration between the U.S. and immigrants' home countries. The misclassification in previous work of these largely low{wage immigrants as recent arrivals accounts for close to one{third of the measured decline in the level of earnings of immigrant arrival cohorts between 1960 and 1980. The new evidence presented here, therefore, suggests that previous analyses had overestimated both the rate of earnings growth among immigrants who remain in the U.S. and the secular decline in the level of earnings across arrival cohorts.

Suggested Citation

  • Darren Lubotsky, 2000. "Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings," Working Papers 214, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:rpdevs:chutes_or_ladders.pdf
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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. Nevo, Aviv, 2003. "Using Weights to Adjust for Sample Selection When Auxiliary Information Is Available," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 21(1), pages 43-52, January.
    3. Duleep, Harriet & Regets, Mark, 2002. "The Elusive Concept of Immigrant Quality: Evidence from 1970-1990," IZA Discussion Papers 631, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. 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.
    5. Bound, John & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "The Extent of Measurement Error in Longitudinal Earnings Data: Do Two Wrongs Make a Right?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, January.
    6. 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.
    7. Geoffrey Carliner, 1996. "The Wages and Language Skills of U.S. Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 5763, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
    9. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1993. "Trends in Relative Black-White Earnings Revisited," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 85-91, May.
    10. Powell, James L., 1984. "Least absolute deviations estimation for the censored regression model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 303-325, July.
    11. 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.
    12. Guillermina Jasso & Mark R. Rosenzweig & James P. Smith, 2000. "The Changing Skill of New Immigrants to the United States: Recent Trends and Their Determinants," NBER Chapters,in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 185-226 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C24 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Truncated and Censored Models; Switching Regression Models; Threshold Regression Models
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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