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Immigrant Earnings Growth: Selection Bias or Real Progress?


  • Picot, Garnett
  • Piraino, Patrizio


We use longitudinal tax data linked to immigrant landing records to estimate the earnings growth of immigrants from three entering cohorts since the early 1980s. Selective attrition by low-earning immigrants might result in lower earnings growth with years since migration in longitudinal data compared to repeated cross-sections. Existing studies on U.S. data have found exactly this result (Lubotsky 2007, JPE). We ask whether a similar bias is observed in the Canadian data and find that it is not. We show that while low-earnings immigrants are more likely to leave the cross-sectional samples over time, the same is true for the Canadian born population. We conclude that there is no evidence of selective labour force participation patterns among immigrants in Canada compared to the native born population.

Suggested Citation

  • Picot, Garnett & Piraino, Patrizio, 2010. "Immigrant Earnings Growth: Selection Bias or Real Progress?," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2010-35, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 28 Dec 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2010-35

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Per-Anders Edin & Robert J. LaLonde & Olof Aslund, 2000. "Emigration of Immigrants and Measures of Immigrant Assimilation: Evidence from Sweden," Working Papers 0020, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    2. Harriet Duleep & Daniel Dowhan, 2002. "Insights from longitudinal data on the earnings growth of U.S. foreign-born men," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 39(3), pages 485-506, August.
    3. Skuterud, Mikal & Su, Mingcui, 2009. "Immigrant Wage Assimilation and the Return to Foreign and Host-Country Sources of Human Capital," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2009-38, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 26 Jun 2009.
    4. Wei-Yin Hu, 2000. "Immigrant Earnings Assimilation: Estimates from Longitudinal Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 368-372, May.
    5. Harriet Duleep & Mark Regets, 1997. "Measuring immigrant wage growth using matched CPS files," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 34(2), pages 239-249, May.
    6. Green, David A. & Worswick, Christopher, 2012. "Immigrant earnings profiles in the presence of human capital investment: Measuring cohort and macro effects," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 241-259.
    7. Derek Hum & Wayne Simpson, 2004. "Reinterpreting the performance of immigrant wages from panel data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 29(1), pages 129-147, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Dustmann, 2014. "Selective Outmigration and the Estimation of Immigrants Earnings Profiles," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1402, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    2. Dustmann, Christian & Görlach, Joseph-Simon, 2016. "Estimating immigrant earnings profiles when migrations are temporary," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 1-8.
    3. Neeraj Kaushal & Yao Lu & Nicole Denier & Julia Shu-Huah Wang & Stephen J. Trejo, 2016. "Immigrant employment and earnings growth in Canada and the USA: evidence from longitudinal data," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(4), pages 1249-1277, October.
    4. Michele Campolieti & Morley Gunderson & Olga Timofeeva & Evguenia Tsiroulnitchenko, 2013. "Immigrant Assimilation, Canada 1971–2006: Has the Tide Turned?," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 34(4), pages 455-475, December.
    5. Green, David A. & Worswick, Christopher, 2012. "Immigrant earnings profiles in the presence of human capital investment: Measuring cohort and macro effects," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 241-259.
    6. Arthur Sweetman & Casey Warman, 2013. "Canada's Immigration Selection System and Labour Market Outcomes," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 39(s1), pages 141-160, May.

    More about this item


    Immigration; assimilation; longitudinal data; selection bias;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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