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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. 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.
  3. Cohen-Goldner, Sarit & Eckstein, Zvi, 2010. "Estimating the return to training and occupational experience: The case of female immigrants," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 156(1), pages 86-105, May.
  4. Ingram, Beth F. & Neumann, George R., 2006. "The returns to skill," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 35-59, February.
  5. 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).
  6. Shintaro Yamaguchi, 2011. "Tasks and Heterogeneous Human Capital," Department of Economics Working Papers 2011-06, McMaster University.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Gueorgui Kambourov & Iourii Manovskii, 2009. "Occupational Specificity Of Human Capital," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 50(1), pages 63-115, 02.
  10. 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.
  11. Gathmann, Christina & Schönberg, Uta, 2007. "How General Is Human Capital? A Task-Based Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 3067, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Darren Lubotsky, 2000. "Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings," Labor and Demography 0004006, EconWPA.
  13. Aydemir, Abdurrahman & Skuterud, Mikal, 2004. "Explaining the Deteriorating Entry Earnings of Canada's Immigrant Cohorts: 1966-2000," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2004225e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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).
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