Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Immigrants Close Earning Gap More Slowly Than Previously Thought

Date:
October 20, 2008
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Immigrants whittle into a broad earnings gap with American-born workers only about half as fast as long-accepted estimates suggest, according to new research.

Immigrants whittle into a broad earnings gap with American-born workers only about half as fast as long-accepted estimates suggest, according to new research by a University of Illinois economist.

Related Articles


Darren Lubotsky says immigrants’ typically low starting wages grow just 10 to 15 percent faster than native-born workers over their first 20 years in the U.S., well short of the 26 percent catch-up rate in widely used, census-based projections.

Lubotsky says census estimates are flawed because they only compare wages of immigrants and native workers polled in the once-a-decade surveys, and fail to factor in the roughly third of immigrants – most low paid -- who come to the U.S. then leave.

“The reason it appears immigrants catch up quicker based on census data is because, in that data, we’re mostly seeing the successful ones, those who decided to remain here,” said Lubotsky, a member of the U. of I. Institute of Government and Public Affairs.

“Immigrants who have been in the U.S. for decades tend to have relatively high earnings, but the data don’t include many low-earning immigrants who left and therefore weren’t surveyed,” he said. “The earnings of those who stay do grow, but only about half as fast as previous estimates indicated.”

Census estimates are further skewed, he says, because seasonal workers and other low-earning immigrants who routinely go back and forth between the U.S. and their home countries are sometimes misclassified as new arrivals, inflating the pay averages for long-term immigrants.

Lubotsky’s study, published in the Journal of Political Economy, examined annual earnings of about 14,000 natives and immigrants from 1951 to 1997, using data from two Bureau of Labor Statistics surveys in the early 1990s that was matched to Social Security records.

“The problem with census data is that the composition of the survey group keeps changing – it gets smaller because every 10 years you’re losing people who leave the country,” he said. “The data I used track the same people over time and show that the earnings of those who stayed were high to begin with, but tended to not grow very fast.”

But even the broader data sample has shortcomings, Lubotsky said, such as missing information on immigrants who are paid in cash and providing no insight on why some choose to leave the country.

“The data aren’t ideal, but it’s still a vast improvement,” he said. “I view the research as getting the facts straight, showing that earnings projections from census data are inaccurate. Whether discussing policy or labor markets, people need to realize that it’s really not the case that immigrants arrive poor then end up closer to the average worker.”

Lubotsky cautions against giving the new findings too much weight in the more than century-old debate over U.S. immigration policy.

“I tend to think that we should not use this research as a guide to what we do in the future,” he said. “We should understand how immigrants assimilate into our labor markets, but there are broader costs and benefits to letting more immigrants in or keeping them out. Whether these new facts matter for policy is up to policymakers.”

But he says the study could be useful for foreign workers who are thinking about packing up and crossing U.S. borders in quest of riches.

“For prospective immigrants, it’s something they might want to consider,” Lubotsky said. “If you’re coming for money, have a contingency plan.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Immigrants Close Earning Gap More Slowly Than Previously Thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020171440.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2008, October 20). Immigrants Close Earning Gap More Slowly Than Previously Thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020171440.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Immigrants Close Earning Gap More Slowly Than Previously Thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020171440.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

After Sony Hack, What's Next?

Reuters - US Online Video (Dec. 19, 2014) The hacking attack on Sony Pictures has U.S. government officials weighing their response to the cyber-attack. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone Limits Chistmas Activities to Stem Ebola Spread

S. Leone Limits Chistmas Activities to Stem Ebola Spread

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) Sierra Leone has launched sweeping efforts to stem the spread of Ebola in the west of the country. While church services will be allowed to go ahead over the festive period, public gatherings and entertainment have been banned. Duration: 01:10 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins