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A Meta-Analytic Assessment of the Effect of Immigration on Wages

  • Simonetta Longhi

    (Free University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Peter Nijkamp

    (Free University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

  • Jacques Poot


    (University of Waikato)

In our increasingly interconnected and open world, international migration is becoming an important socio-economic phenomenon for many countries. Since the early 1980s, many studies have been undertaken of the impact of immigration on host labour markets. Borjas (2003) noted that the estimated effect of immigration on the wage of native workers varies widely from study to study and sometimes even within the same study. In addition, these effects cluster around zero. Such a small effect is a rather surprising outcome, given that in a closed competitive labour market an increase in labour supply may be expected to exert a downward pressure on wages. We revisit this issue by applying meta-analytic techniques to a sample of eighteen papers, which altogether generated 348 estimates of the percentage change in the wage of a native worker with respect to a one percentage point increase in the ratio of immigrants over native workers. While many studies in our sample employ US data, estimates are obtained from Germany, The Netherlands, France, Norway, Austria, Israel and Australia. Our analysis shows that results vary across countries and are interalia related to the type of modelling approach. Technical issues such as publication bias and quality of the estimates are addressed as well. A negative but small effect of immmigration on wages of native groups with similar skills appears rather robust.

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Paper provided by University of Waikato, Population Studies Centre in its series Population Studies Centre Discussion Papers with number dp-47.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: 16 Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wai:pscdps:dp-47
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  1. George J. Borjas, 1986. "Immigrants, Minorities, and Labor Market Competition," NBER Working Papers 2028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, December.
  3. Greenwood, Michael J. & Hunt, Gary L. & Kohli, Ulrich, 1997. "The factor-market consequences of unskilled immigration to the United States," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-28, March.
  4. David Card, 1990. "The impact of the Mariel boatlift on the Miami labor market," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
  5. Hofer, Helmut & Huber, Peter, 2001. "Wage and Mobility Effects of Trade and Migration on the Austrian Labour Market," Economics Series 97, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  6. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Aslan Zorlu & Joop Hartog, 2005. "The effect of immigration on wages in three european countries," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 113-151, December.
  8. Welch, Finis, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S65-97, October.
  9. David Card & John E. DiNardo, 2000. "Do Immigrant Inflows Lead to Native Outflows?," NBER Working Papers 7578, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Orley Ashenfelter & Colm Harmon & Hessel Oosterbeek, 1999. "A Review of Estimates of the Schooling/Earnings Relationship, with Tests for Publication Bias," Working Papers 804, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. Stephen B. Jarrell & T. D. Stanley, 1990. "A meta-analysis of the union-nonunion wage gap," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 44(1), pages 54-67, October.
  12. Borjas, George J & Freeman, Richard B & Katz, Lawrence, 1996. "Searching for the Effect of Immigration on the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 246-51, May.
  13. Rachel M. Friedberg & Jennifer Hunt, 1995. "The Impact of Immigrants on Host Country Wages, Employment and Growth," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
  14. Roberto Pedace, 1998. "The Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market for Native-Born Workers: Incorporating the Dynamics of Internal Migration," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 449-462, Fall.
  15. George J. Borjas, 2001. "Does Immigration Grease the Wheels of the Labor Market?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 69-134.
  16. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1995. "Time-Series Minimum-Wage Studies: A Meta-analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 238-43, May.
  17. Addison, Thomas & Worswick, Christopher, 2002. "The Impact of Immigration on the Earnings of Natives: Evidence from Australian Micro Data," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(240), pages 68-78, March.
  18. Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 1998. "East-West Trade and Migration: The Austro-German Case," IZA Discussion Papers 2, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Neumark, David & Wascher, William, 1998. "Is the Time-Series Evidence on Minimum Wage Effects Contaminated by Publication Bias?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(3), pages 458-70, July.
  20. Doucouliagos, Chris, 1997. "The Aggregate Demand for Labour in Australia: A Meta-analysis," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(69), pages 224-42, December.
  21. T.D. Stanley & Stephen B. Jarrell, 1998. "Gender Wage Discrimination Bias? A Meta-Regression Analysis," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 947-973.
  22. Peter Nijkamp & Jacques Poot, 2005. "The Last Word on the Wage Curve?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(3), pages 421-450, 07.
  23. Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf & Zweimüller, Josef, 1994. "Immigration and the Earnings of Young Native Workers," CEPR Discussion Papers 936, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. Thomas Bauer, 1998. "Do Immigrants Reduce Natives' Wages? Evidence from Germany," Departmental Working Papers 199802, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  25. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Friedman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "How Much Do Immigration and Trade Affect Labor Market Outcomes?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 1-90.
  26. 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.
  27. Zimmermann, Klaus F, 1993. "Native Wage Impacts of Foreign Labour: A Random Effects Panel Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 851, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  28. Woodward, Richard T. & Wui, Yong-Suhk, 2001. "The economic value of wetland services: a meta-analysis," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 257-270, May.
  29. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:4:p:1373-1408 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. T. D. Stanley, 2001. "Wheat from Chaff: Meta-analysis as Quantitative Literature Review," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 131-150, Summer.
  31. Finis Welch, 1979. "Effects of Cohort Size on Earnings: The Baby Boom Babies' Financial Bust," UCLA Economics Working Papers 146, UCLA Department of Economics.
  32. Grossman, Jean Baldwin, 1982. "The Substitutability of Natives and Immigrants in Production," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(4), pages 596-603, November.
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