IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Mind the gap! The relative wages of immigrants in the Portuguese labour market


  • Sónia Cabral
  • Cláudia Duarte


Using matched employer-employee data, we examine the wage gaps between immigrant and native workers in the Portuguese labour market in the 2002-2008 period. We use the relation between the Gelbach’s and Oaxaca-Blinder’s decompositions to split the unconditional average wage gap as the sum of a composition effect and a wage structure effect. Most of the wage gap is not due to worst endowments of the immigrants but to differences in the returns to those characteristics and to the immigrant status effect. In particular, education and foreign experience of the average immigrants are significantly less valued in the Portuguese labour market. Overall, the wages of immigrants do not fully converge to those of comparable natives as experience in the Portuguese labour market increases. The assimilation rates tend to be stronger in the first years after migration and for immigrants with higher levels of pre-immigration experience. Total immigrants are a heterogeneous group of different nationalities, with immigrants from the EU15 and China starring as the two extreme cases.

Suggested Citation

  • Sónia Cabral & Cláudia Duarte, 2013. "Mind the gap! The relative wages of immigrants in the Portuguese labour market," Working Papers w201305, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ptu:wpaper:w201305

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Izquierdo, Mario & Lacuesta, Aitor & Vegas, Raquel, 2009. "Assimilation of immigrants in Spain: A longitudinal analysis," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 669-678, December.
    2. Leilanie Basilio & Thomas K. Bauer & Anica Kramer, 2017. "Transferability of Human Capital and Immigrant Assimilation: An Analysis for Germany," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 31(3), pages 245-264, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Fortin, Nicole & Lemieux, Thomas & Firpo, Sergio, 2011. "Decomposition Methods in Economics," Handbook of Labor Economics, Elsevier.
    5. 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.
    6. Esteban Sanromà & Raúl Ramos & Hipólito Simón, 2009. "Immigrant wages in the Spanish labour market: does the origin of human capital matter?," Working Papers 2009/8, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    7. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
    8. Mark C. Regets & Harriet Orcutt Duleep, 1999. "Immigrants and Human-Capital Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 186-191, May.
    9. Anabela Carneiro & Natércia Fortuna & José Varejão, 2012. "Immigrants at new destinations: how they fare and why," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(3), pages 1165-1185, July.
    10. Heather Antecol & Peter Kuhn & Stephen J. Trejo, 2006. "Assimilation via Prices or Quantities?: Sources of Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
    11. Sónia Cabral & Cláudia Duarte, 2010. "Employment and wages of immigrants in Portugal," Working Papers w201031, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    12. Alessandra Venturini & Claudia Villosio, 2008. "Labour-market assimilation of foreign workers in Italy," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(3), pages 518-542, Autumn.
    13. 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).
    14. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1994. "The Performance of Immigrants in the Canadian Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 369-405, July.
    15. Erling Barth & Bernt Bratsberg & Oddbj¯rn Raaum, 2004. "Identifying Earnings Assimilation of Immigrants under Changing Macroeconomic Conditions," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(1), pages 1-22, March.
    16. Dell’Aringa, Carlo & Lucifora, Claudio & Pagani, Laura, 2012. "A "Glass-Ceiling" Effect for Immigrants in the Italian Labour Market?," IZA Discussion Papers 6555, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    17. Abdurrahman Aydemir & Mikal Skuterud, 2005. "Explaining the deteriorating entry earnings of Canada's immigrant cohorts, 1966 - 2000," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(2), pages 641-672, May.
    18. Antecol, Heather & Kuhn, Peter J. & Trejo, Stephen, 2003. "Assimilation via Prices or Quantities? Labor Market Institutions and Immigrant Earnings Growth in Australia, Canada, and the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 802, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Ana Ferrer & W. Craig Riddell, 2008. "Education, credentials, and immigrant earnings," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(1), pages 186-216, February.
    20. Joseph Schaafsma & Arthur Sweetman, 2001. "Immigrant earnings: age at immigration matters," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1066-1099, November.
    21. Robert F. Schoeni, 1997. "New Evidence on the Economic Progress of Foreign-Born Men in the 1970s and 1980s," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(4), pages 683-740.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Sónia Cabral & Cláudia Duarte, 2014. "Nominal and real wage rigidity: Does nationality matter?," IZA Journal of European Labor Studies, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-20, December.
    2. Federica D’Isanto & Panagiotis Fouskas & Melania Verde, 2016. "Determinants of Well-being Among Legal and Illegal Immigrants: Evidence from South Italy," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 126(3), pages 1109-1141, April.
    3. Polyakova, Evgeniya & Smirnykh, Larisa, 2016. "The earning differential between natives and individuals with immigrant background in Russia: The role of ethnicity," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 43, pages 52-72.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ptu:wpaper:w201305. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (DEE-NTDD). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.