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From Engineer to Taxi Driver? Occupational Skills and the Economic Outcomes of Immigrants

  • Susumu Imai

    ()

    (Queen`s University, Department of Economics)

  • Derek Stacey

    ()

    (Queen`s University, Department of Economics)

  • Casey Warman

    ()

    (Queen`s University, Department of Economics)

We examine the ability of male immigrants to transfer their occupational human capital using information from the O*NET and a unique dataset that includes both the last source country occupation and the first four years of occupations in Canada. We first augment a model of occupational choice and skill accumulation to derive predictions about the cross-border transferability of occupational human capital. We then test the empirical implications using the skill requirements of pre- and post-immigration occupations. We find that male immigrants to Canada were employed in source country occupations that required high levels of cognitive skills, but relied less intently on manual skills. Following immigration, they find initial employment in occupations that require the opposite. Regression analysis uncovers large returns to the quantitative skill requirements of Canadian occupations, but no returns to source country skill requirements. Finally, our empirical findings suggests that occupational skill gaps are detrimental to immigrants` earnings.

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File URL: http://qed.econ.queensu.ca/working_papers/papers/qed_wp_1275.pdf
File Function: First version 2011
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Paper provided by Queen's University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1275.

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Length: 65 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qed:wpaper:1275
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  1. Belot, Michèle & Hatton, Timothy J., 2008. "Immigrant Selection in The OECD," CEPR Discussion Papers 6675, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Goldmann, Gustave & Sweetman, Arthur & Warman, Casey, 2011. "The Portability of New Immigrants' Human Capital: Language, Education and Occupational Matching," IZA Discussion Papers 5851, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Christina Gathmann & Uta Schönberg, 2010. "How General Is Human Capital? A Task-Based Approach," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 1-49, 01.
  4. Darren Lubotsky, 2007. "Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(5), pages 820-867, October.
  5. David E. Bloom & Gilles Grenier & Morley Gunderson, 1994. "The Changing Labor Market Position of Canadian Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 4672, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Barry R Chiswick & Paul W Miller, 2007. "Occupational Language Requirements and the Value of English in the US Labor Market," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 07-06, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  7. Cohen Goldner, Sarit & Eckstein, Zvi, 2004. "Estimating the Return to Training and Occupational Experience: The Case of Female Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 1225, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Charles Beach & Alan G. Green & Christopher Worswick, 2006. "Impacts of the Point System and Immigration Policy Levers on Skill Characteristics of Canadian Immigrants," Working Papers 1115, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  9. Iourii Manovskii & Gueorgui Kambourov, 2004. "Occupational Specificity of Human Capital," 2004 Meeting Papers 197, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  10. Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2011. "Tasks and Heterogeneous Human Capital," Department of Economics Working Papers 2011-06, McMaster University.
  11. Ana Ferrer & David A. Green & W. Craig Riddell, 2006. "The Effect of Literacy on Immigrant Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  12. Maxim Poletaev & Chris Robinson, 2008. "Human Capital Specificity: Evidence from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles and Displaced Worker Surveys, 1984-2000," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 387-420, 07.
  13. Green, David A, 1999. "Immigrant Occupational Attainment: Assimilation and Mobility over Time," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 49-79, January.
  14. 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.
  15. Ingram, Beth F. & Neumann, George R., 2006. "The returns to skill," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 35-59, February.
  16. Parent, Daniel, 2000. "Industry-Specific Capital and the Wage Profile: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 306-23, April.
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