Assimilation or Segmentation? Immigrant and Native Male Earnings Trajectories in the Low-Skill Labor Market

Matthew S. Hall, Pennsylvania State University

We use monthly SIPP data from 1996 to 2000 to estimate the determinants of differentiation in intercepts and slopes for earning growth among low-skill immigrant and native male workers. Our findings provide further depth of understanding to the “mixed” picture of segmentation in the low-skill labor market that has been reported by others. On the positive side, many immigrants are employed alongside natives in similar industries and occupations. Both groups show wage gains over time, and generally receive similar returns to years of schooling completed. Immigrants also receive substantial returns to acculturation, measured as age at arrival and citizenship status. African immigrants appear to be particularly successful in the labor market. On the negative side, immigrants are less likely to occupy supervisory and managerial jobs than natives. Low-skill immigrants earn less than low-skill natives, and this is particularly the case for those from certain South and Central American countries, as well as from China, Korea, and Vietnam. Hispanic immigrants receive lower returns to education than do white immigrants. Furthermore, education, age at arrival, and citizenship do not explain the earnings disadvantages experienced by those from the countries listed above.

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Presented in Poster Session 2