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Economic Assimilation of Foreign-Born Workers in the United States: An Overlapping Rotating Panel Analysis

  • Seik Kim
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This paper presents new evidence on whether foreign-born workers assimilate, which we define as the degree to which the wages of foreign-born workers approach those of comparable native-born workers with additional time spent in the United States. The key econometric challenge is to separate wage growth due to assimilation from composition effects. The composition of immigrant population varies over time due to variation in initial skill levels at year of entry and also because of selective return migration. While much of the existing literature relies on cross-section data, we use longitudinal data on native-born and foreign-born populations which allows us to control for initial skill composition. An advantage of using the Current Population Survey (CPS) is that one can construct cross-section samples by ignoring its longitudinal structure. We compare cross-section and panel models of foreign-native gap in wage growth, and the results suggest that analyses based on repeated cross-section studies are biased upward by fixed unobserved heterogeneity. Controlling for this heterogeneity reverses the conventional result of economic assimilation. Overall, we find little evidence of a narrowing of the foreign-native gap in economic performance. New immigrants from Central and South America earn lower wages than natives, and this gap widens with time in the U.S. labor market. The wages of new immigrants from Europe and Asia exceed those of natives and there is no strong evidence of convergence. We account for sample attrition in the presence of nonrandom outmigration and find that our results are robust to panel attrition.

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Paper provided by University of Washington, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number UWEC-2008-19.

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Handle: RePEc:udb:wpaper:uwec-2008-19
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economic Benefits from Immigration," NBER Working Papers 4955, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Keisuke Hirano & Guido W. Imbens & Geert Ridder & Donald B. Rubin, 2001. "Combining Panel Data Sets with Attrition and Refreshment Samples," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(6), pages 1645-1659, November.
  5. Maia Guell & Luojia Hu, 2003. "Estimating the Probability of Leaving Unemployment Using Uncompleted Spells from Repeated Cross-section Data," Working Papers 854, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Guillermina Jasso & Mark Rosenzweig, 1982. "Estimating the emigration rates of legal immigrants using administrative and survey data: The 1971 cohort of immigrants to the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 279-290, August.
  7. Robert Warren & Jennifer Peck, 1980. "Foreign-Born Emigration From The United States: 1960 To 1970," Demography, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 71-84, February.
  8. Christopher R. Bollinger & Barry T. Hirsch, 2006. "Match Bias from Earnings Imputation in the Current Population Survey: The Case of Imperfect Matching," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 483-520, July.
  9. Borjas, George J, 1989. "Immigrant and Emigrant Earnings: A Longitudinal Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(1), pages 21-37, January.
  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.
  11. Chunrong Ai & Xiaohong Chen, 2003. "Efficient Estimation of Models with Conditional Moment Restrictions Containing Unknown Functions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1795-1843, November.
  12. Borjas, George J, 1995. "Assimilation and Changes in Cohort Quality Revisited: What Happened to Immigrant Earnings in the 1980s?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 201-45, April.
  13. 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.
  14. Darren Lubotsky, 2000. "Chutes or Ladders? A Longitudinal Analysis of Immigrant Earnings," Labor and Demography 0004006, EconWPA.
  15. Bernt Bratsberg & Erling Barth & Oddbjørn Raaum, 2006. "Local Unemployment and the Relative Wages of Immigrants: Evidence from the Current Population Surveys," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 243-263, May.
  16. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
  17. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1997. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 705-27, September.
  18. Borjas, George J & Bratsberg, Bernt, 1996. "Who Leaves? The Outmigration of the Foreign-Born," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 165-76, February.
  19. Peracchi, Franco & Welch, Finis, 1995. "How representative are matched cross-sections? Evidence from the Current Population Survey," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 153-179, July.
  20. Hirsch, Barry & Schumacher, Edward J., 2003. "Match Bias in Wage Gap Estimates Due to Earnings Imputation," IZA Discussion Papers 783, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  22. Wei-Yin Hu, 2000. "Immigrant Earnings Assimilation: Estimates from Longitudinal Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 368-372, May.
  23. David Neumark & William Wascher, 1995. "The Effects of Minimum Wages on Teenage Employment and Enrollment: Evidence from Matched CPS Surveys," NBER Working Papers 5092, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Seik Kim, . "Sample Attrition in the Presence of Population Attrition," Working Papers UWEC-2009-02, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
  25. Marco Manacorda, 2004. "Can the Scala Mobile Explain the Fall and Rise of Earnings Inequality in Italy? A Semiparametric Analysis, 19771993," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 585-614, July.
  26. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2002. "Skill Biased Technological Change and Rising Wage Inequality: Some Problems and Puzzles," NBER Working Papers 8769, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Harriet Duleep & Mark Regets, 1997. "Measuring immigrant wage growth using matched CPS files," Demography, Springer, vol. 34(2), pages 239-249, May.
  29. repec:bla:restud:v:72:y:2005:i:2:p:343-366 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-89, October.
  31. David Neumark & William L. Wascher, 2008. "Minimum Wages," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262141027, June.
  32. 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.
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