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Immigrants and the Labor Market

  • James P. Smith

The once-again rapidly expanding numbers of immigrants in the American labor market has not escaped the attention of labor economists. In this paper, the author deals with two issues concerning immigrants on which labor economists have made significant contributions over the last few decades. The first question concerns what has happened to the skill gap between immigrants and Native-born Americans (see Borjas (1995) and Jasso, Rosenzweig, and Smith (2000)). This "what happened" question is followed by "why did it happen" and he offers his answers as to why. The second question concerns what has happened to the education dimension of the skill gap for descendants of immigrants- assimilation across generations. An important form in which this question has been asked is how the recent waves of ethnic immigrants compare with the reality of the generational success of European immigrant experience, a success that has shaped much of mythology surrounding the American immigrant experience.

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Paper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 321.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:321
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  1. Kristin F. Butcher & John DiNardo, 2002. "The Immigrant and native-born wage distributions: Evidence from United States censuses," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(1), pages 97-121, October.
  2. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. 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.
  4. Guillermina Jasso & Douglas Massey & Mark Rosenzweig & James Smith, 2000. "The new immigrant survey pilot (NIS-P): Overview and new findings about U.S. Legal immigrants at admission," Demography, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 127-138, February.
  5. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Recent immigrants: Unexpected implications for crime and incarceration," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 51(4), pages 654-679, July.
  6. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1990. "The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 3573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Brian Duncan & Stephen J. Trejo, 2007. "Ethnic Identification, Intermarriage, and Unmeasured Progress by Mexican Americans," NBER Chapters, in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 229-268 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. George J. Borjas, 1994. "Long-run convergence of ethnic skill differentials: The children and grandchildren of the Great Migration," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 553-573, July.
  9. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-42, June.
  10. James P. Smith, 2003. "Assimilation across the Latino Generations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 315-319, May.
  11. George J. Borjas, 1994. "Long-Run Convergence of Ethnic Skill Differentials: The Children and Grandchildren of the Great Migration," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 47(4), pages 553-573, July.
  12. Kristin F. Butcher & John Dinardo, 2002. "The Immigrant and Native-Born Wage Distributions: Evidence from United States Censuses," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 56(1), pages 97-121, October.
  13. George J. Borjas, 1994. "Long-Run Convergence of Ethnic Skill Differentials," NBER Working Papers 4641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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