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Why do Immigrant Workers in Australia Perform Better than in Canada? Is it the Immigrants or their Labour Markets?

  • Clarke, Andrew
  • Skuterud, Mikal

Research comparing the labour market performance of recent cohorts of immigrants to Australia and Canada points to superior employment and earnings outcomes in Australia. Examining Australian and Canadian Census data between 1986 and 2006, we find that this performance advantage is not driven by differences in broader structural and macroeconomic labour market conditions affecting all new labour market entrants. Rather, the results from comparing immigrants from a common source country { either the UK, India, or China { suggest that the advantage, particularly in earnings, primarily reflects a difference in the source country distribution of Australian immigrants. Moreover, the recent tightening of Australian selection policy, most notably its use of mandatory pre-migration English-language testing, appears to be having an effect primarily by further shifting the source country distribution of immigrants away from non-English-speaking source countries, rather than in identifying higher-quality migrants within source countries.

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Paper provided by Vancouver School of Economics in its series CLSSRN working papers with number clsrn_admin-2012-10.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 31 Mar 2012
Date of revision: 31 Mar 2012
Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2012-10
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  1. Chiswick, Barry R & Miller, Paul W, 1985. "Immigrant Generation and Income in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 61(173), pages 540-53, June.
  2. Bloom, D. & Grenier, G. & Gunderson, M., 1993. "The Changing Labour Market Position of Canadian Immigrants," Working Papers 9305e, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.
  3. 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.
  4. Dustmann, Christian & Fabbri, Francesca, 2000. "Language Proficiency and Labour Market Performance of Immigrants in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 156, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  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. McDonald, James Ted & Worswick, Christopher, 1999. "The Earnings of Immigrant Men in Australia: Assimilation, Cohort Effects, and Macroeconomic Conditions," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 75(228), pages 49-62, March.
  7. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1994. "The Performance of Immigrants in the Canadian Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 369-405, July.
  8. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
  9. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A., 2002. "Public Policy and the Labor Market Adjustment of New Immigrants to Australia," IZA Discussion Papers 620, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
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