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Immigrant skills and employment. Cross-country evidence from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey

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Abstract

This paper studies the distributions of literacy skills, education, and employment of immigrants and natives in three host countries: Canada, the United States, and Norway. For natives, we uncover remarkably stable relations between literacy skills, schooling, and employment across countries. For immigrants, the relations differ strongly: whereas literacy skills form only a weak determinant of immigrant employment in the North American labor markets, in Norway literacy is much more important for immigrant than native employment. We investigate various sources of this discrepancy and fail to uncover evidence that the finding reflects differential immigrant sorting across host countries. Instead, results show that literacy skills are particularly important for groups characterized by low employment in the Norwegian labor market, consistent with the hypothesis that a compressed wage structure, employment protection, and social insurance with high replacement ratios create adverse employment effects for immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Bernt Bratsberg & Torbjørn Hægeland & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2013. "Immigrant skills and employment. Cross-country evidence from the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey," Discussion Papers 730, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:ssb:dispap:730
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    File URL: https://www.ssb.no/a/publikasjoner/pdf/DP/dp730.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Green, David A. & Riddell, W. Craig, 2013. "Ageing and literacy skills: Evidence from Canada, Norway and the United States," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(C), pages 16-29.
    2. Green, David A. & Craig Riddell, W., 2003. "Literacy and earnings: an investigation of the interaction of cognitive and unobserved skills in earnings generation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 165-184, April.
    3. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2005. "Do Cognitive Test Scores Explain Higher U.S. Wage Inequality?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 184-193, February.
    4. Picot, Garnett & Sweetman, Arthur, 2011. "Canadian Immigration Policy and Immigrant Economic Outcomes: Why the Differences in Outcomes between Sweden and Canada?," IZA Policy Papers 25, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Jasso, Guillermina & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1985. "What's In a Name? Country-of-Origin Influences on the Earnings of Immigrants in the United States," Bulletins 8424, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
    6. 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.
    7. Bernt Bratsberg, 2002. "School Quality and Returns to Education of U.S. Immigrants," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(2), pages 177-198, April.
    8. Antecol, Heather, 2000. "An examination of cross-country differences in the gender gap in labor force participation rates," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(4), pages 409-426, July.
    9. Francine D Blau & Lawrence M Kahn & Kerry L Papps, 2011. "Gender, Source Country Characteristics, and Labor Market Assimilation among Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 43-58, February.
    10. Danielle Venn, 2009. "Legislation, Collective Bargaining and Enforcement: Updating the OECD Employment Protection Indicators," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 89, OECD Publishing.
    11. Sweetman, Arthur, 2004. "Immigrant Source Country Educational Quality and Canadian Labour Market Outcomes," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2004234e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigrants; literacy skills; employment;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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