nep-mig New Economics Papers
on Economics of Human Migration
Issue of 2008‒07‒14
sixteen papers chosen by
Yuji Tamura
Australian National University

  1. The Impact of Immigration on Election Outcomes in Danish Municipalities By Gerdes, Christer; Wadensjö, Eskil
  2. Immigrant Labor, Child-Care Services, and the Work-Fertility Trade-Off in the United States By Furtado, Delia; Hock, Heinrich
  3. Intermarriage and the Intergenerational Transmission of Ethnic Identity and Human Capital for Mexican Americans By Duncan, Brian; Trejo, Stephen
  4. Do High-Skill Immigrants Raise Productivity? Evidence from Israeli Manufacturing Firms, 1990-1999 By Paserman, Daniele
  5. Employment Assimilation of Immigrants in the Netherlands: Catching Up and the Irrelevance of Education By Zorlu, Aslan; Hartog, Joop
  6. The "Negative" Assimilation of Immigrants: A Special Case By Chiswick, Barry R.; Miller, Paul W.
  7. The Effect of Minimum Wages on Immigrants’ Employment and Earnings By Orrenius, Pia M.; Zavodny, Madeline
  8. Using Achievement Tests to Measure Language Assimilation and Language Bias among Immigrant Children By Akresh, Richard; Redstone Akresh, Ilana
  9. Migration, the Quality of the Labour Force and Economic Inequality By Kahanec, Martin; Zimmermann, Klaus F.
  10. Selection Criteria and the Skill Composition of Immigrants: A Comparative Analysis of Australian and U.S. Employment Immigration By Jasso, Guillermina; Rosenzweig, Mark R.
  11. The East-West migration in Europe: skill levels of migrants and their effects on the european labour market By Massimiliano Serati; Michela Martinoia
  12. Do Interest Groups Affect US Immigration Policy? By Facchini, Giovanni; Mayda, Anna Maria; Mishra, Prachi
  13. From Individual Attitudes towards Migrants to Migration Policy Outcomes: Theory and Evidence By Facchini, Giovanni; Mayda, Anna Maria
  14. The Economics of Language: An Introduction and Overview By Chiswick, Barry R.
  15. Ancestry versus Ethnicity: The Complexity and Selectivity of Mexican Identification in the United States By Duncan, Brian; Trejo, Stephen
  16. Family Migration: A Vehicle of Child Morbidity in the Informal Settlements of Nairobi City, Kenya? By Konseiga, Adama

  1. By: Gerdes, Christer (SOFI, Stockholm University); Wadensjö, Eskil (Stockholm University)
    Abstract: In this paper we study the effects on support for different political parties due to an increase in the immigrant share in Danish municipalities during the period 1989-2001. We find that the immigrant share has some notable effects. The anti-immigration parties are among those that win votes when the immigrant share increases, but a pro-immigration party on the left also gains from an increase in the immigrant share. The non-socialist party that is most pro-immigration, however, loses votes when the immigrant share increases. Our results indicate that in the elections some Danish voters voice their displeasure about immigration in their own neighbourhood. But we find no clear indication of a general decline in support for the welfare state on account of immigration, as several scholars have been predicting.
    Keywords: immigration, immigrants, elections, racism, xenophobia
    JEL: J15 J61 D72
    Date: 2008–07
  2. By: Furtado, Delia (University of Connecticut); Hock, Heinrich (Florida State University)
    Abstract: The negative correlation between female employment and fertility in industrialized nations has weakened since the 1960s, particularly in the United States. We suggest that the continuing influx of low-skilled immigrants has led to a substantial reduction in the trade-off between work and childrearing facing American women. The evidence we present indicates that low-skilled immigration has driven down wages in the US child-care sector. More affordable child-care has, in turn, increased the fertility of college graduate native females. Although childbearing is generally associated with temporary exit from the labor force, immigrant-led declines in the price of child-care has reduced the extent of role incompatibility between fertility and work.
    Keywords: fertility, labor supply, immigration
    JEL: D10 F22 J13 J22 R23
    Date: 2008–05
  3. By: Duncan, Brian (University of Colorado, Denver); Trejo, Stephen (University of Texas at Austin)
    Abstract: Using microdata from the 2000 U.S. Census and from recent years of the Current Population Survey (CPS), we investigate whether selective intermarriage and endogenous ethnic identification interact to hide some of the intergenerational progress achieved by the Mexican-origin population in the United States. First, using Census data for U.S.-born youth ages 16-17 who have at least one Mexican parent, we estimate how the Mexican identification, high school dropout rates, and English proficiency of these youth depend on whether they are the product of endogamous or exogamous marriages. Second, we analyze the extent and selectivity of ethnic attrition among second-generation Mexican-American adults and among U.S.-born Mexican-American youth. Using CPS data, we directly assess the influence of endogenous ethnicity by comparing an “objective” indicator of Mexican descent (based on the countries of birth of the respondent and his parents and grandparents) with the standard “subjective” measure of Mexican self-identification (based on the respondent’s answer to the Hispanic origin question). For third-generation Mexican-American youth, we show that ethnic attrition is substantial and could produce significant downward bias in standard measures of attainment which rely on ethnic self-identification rather than objective indicators of Mexican ancestry.
    Keywords: Mexican, intergenerational progress, ethnic identity
    JEL: J15 J62 J12
    Date: 2008–06
  4. By: Paserman, Daniele (Boston University)
    Abstract: During the second part of the 1990s, the Israeli economy experienced a surge in labor productivity and total factor productivity, which was driven primarily by the manufacturing sector. This surge in productivity coincided with the full absorption and integration into the workforce of highly skilled immigrants from the former Soviet Union. The Soviet immigrants were disproportionately employed in manufacturing and, after an initial adjustment period, progressively moved into higher responsibility occupations where their skills could be put to use more efficiently. This has led some observers to comment that the high-skilled immigration wave was one of the main determinants for the fast growth of the Israeli economy in the 1990s. In this paper, I use a unique data set on Israeli manufacturing firms and investigate directly whether firms and industries with a higher concentration of immigrants experienced increases in productivity. The analysis shows that there is no correlation between immigrant concentration and productivity at the firm level in cross-sectional and pooled OLS regressions. First-differences estimates, which control for fixed unobserved differences between firms, reveal, if anything, a negative correlation between the change in output per worker and the change in the immigrant share. A more in-depth analysis reveals that the immigrant share was strongly negatively correlated with output and productivity in low-tech industries. In high-technology industries, the results tend to point to a positive relationship, hinting at complementarities between technology and the skilled immigrant workforce.
    Keywords: immigration, productivity
    JEL: J61 F22 D24
    Date: 2008–06
  5. By: Zorlu, Aslan (University of Amsterdam); Hartog, Joop (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: Using two Dutch labour force surveys, employment assimilation of immigrants is examined. We observe marked differences between immigrants by source country. Non-western immigrants never reach parity with native Dutch. Even second generation immigrants never fully catch up. Caribbean immigrants, who share a colonial history with the Dutch, assimilate relatively quick compared to other non-western immigrants but they still suffer from high unemployment. The study also documents that the quality of jobs is significantly lower for immigrants, especially for those who are at larger cultural distance to Dutch society. Job quality of immigrants increases with the duration of stay but again, does not reach parity with natives. The western immigrants seem to face no considerable difficulties in the Dutch labour market. The most remarkable conclusion is the irrelevance of education for socio-economic position of immigrants once the country of origin has been controlled for.
    Keywords: immigrants, employment, unemployment, job quality
    JEL: J15 J21 J24
    Date: 2008–06
  6. By: Chiswick, Barry R. (University of Illinois at Chicago); Miller, Paul W. (University of Western Australia)
    Abstract: Research on the economic or labor market assimilation of immigrants has to date focused on the degree of improvement in their economic status with duration in the destination. This pattern has been found for all the immigrant receiving countries, time periods and data sets that have been studied. The theoretical underpinning for this finding is the international transferability of skills. This paper addresses whether positive assimilation will be found if skills are very highly transferable internationally. It outlines the conditions for “negative” assimilation in the context of the traditional immigration assimilation model, and examines the empirical relevance of the hypothesis using data on immigrants from the English-speaking developed countries (i.e., the UK, Ireland, Canada and Australia/New Zealand) to the United States. Comparisons with the native born are also presented to test whether the findings are sensitive to immigrant cohort quality effects. Even after controlling for cohort effects, “negative” assimilation (a decline in earnings with duration) is found for immigrants in the US from the English-speaking developed countries.
    Keywords: immigrants, earnings, assimilation
    JEL: J61 J31 F22
    Date: 2008–06
  7. By: Orrenius, Pia M. (Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas); Zavodny, Madeline (Agnes Scott College)
    Abstract: This study examines how minimum wage laws affect the employment and earnings of low-skilled immigrants and natives in the U.S. Minimum wage increases might have larger effects among low-skilled immigrants than among natives because, on average, immigrants earn less than natives due to lower levels of education, limited English skills, and less social capital. Results based on data from the Current Population Survey for the years 1994-2005 do not indicate that minimum wages have adverse employment effects among adult immigrants or natives who did not complete high school. However, low-skilled immigrants may have been discouraged from settling in states that set wage floors substantially above the federal minimum.
    Keywords: immigrants, minimum wage, low-skilled
    JEL: J23 J38 J15
    Date: 2008–05
  8. By: Akresh, Richard (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); Redstone Akresh, Ilana (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
    Abstract: We use Woodcock Johnson III child assessment data in the New Immigrant Survey to examine language assimilation and test score bias among children of Hispanic immigrants. Our identification strategy exploits the test language randomization (Spanish or English) to quantitatively measure the degree and speed of language assimilation, in addition to the potential costs associated with taking a test in one’s non-dominant language. We find that U.S. born children of Hispanic immigrants are not bilingual as predicted by most language assimilation models but rather are English dominant. English language assimilation occurs at a rapid pace for foreign born children as well; children who arrive in the U.S. at an early age or who have spent more than four years in the U.S. do not benefit from taking the tests in Spanish. Results are robust to a fixed effects specification that controls for household level characteristics constant across siblings.
    Keywords: immigration, language assimilation, New Immigrant Survey, Woodcock Johnson achievement tests
    JEL: J24 I20 J18 O15 F22
    Date: 2008–06
  9. By: Kahanec, Martin (IZA); Zimmermann, Klaus F. (IZA, DIW Berlin and Bonn University)
    Abstract: Mobility of workers involves flows of labour, human capital and other production factors and thus contributes to a more efficient allocation of resources. Besides these effects on allocative efficiency, migrant flows affect relative wages and also change the international and national distribution of skills and thereby equality in the receiving society. This paper suggests that skilled immigration promotes economic equality in advanced economies under standard conditions. The context is theoretically explained in a core model and empirically documented using unique data from the WIID database and OECD.
    Keywords: inequality, income distribution, human capital, skill allocation, migration, ethnicity, minority, Gini-coefficient
    JEL: D33 E25 F22 J15 J61 O15
    Date: 2008–06
  10. By: Jasso, Guillermina (New York University); Rosenzweig, Mark R. (Yale University)
    Abstract: This paper uses survey data on employment immigrants in Australia and the United States to identify the main determinants of the size and skill composition of employment immigrants to developed countries. Our approach emphasizes the key roles of world prices of skills and country proximity. Our empirical results are consistent with the view that these factors, rather than the nuances of selection systems, dominate. There are five main findings: (1) Higher skill prices in sending countries decrease the number of immigrants but increase their average schooling. (2) More-distant countries send fewer but more skilled immigrants. (3) Given skill prices and proximity, countries with higher income send more immigrants, of lower skill. (4) Within a sending country, Australia attracts less total but higher-skill migrants than does the United States. This can be attributed, however, to the fact that the skill price in Australia is lower than the U.S. skill price, so that immigration gains are greater from immigrating to United States. (5) The estimated coefficients determining migration flows to Australia and the United States are the same for both countries. We conclude that geography thus matters in the sense that who a country’s neighbors are, in terms of their level and type of development, has a significant effect on the size and skill composition of employment migrants. There is no evidence that the differences in the selection mechanism used to screen employment migrants in the two countries play a significant role in affecting the characteristics of skill migration.
    Keywords: highly skilled immigration, immigration policy, immigrant selection criteria, skill prices, country proximity, globalization, employment immigration
    JEL: F22 J31 J61 J68 O15
    Date: 2008–06
  11. By: Massimiliano Serati (Cattaneo University (LIUC)); Michela Martinoia (Cattaneo University (LIUC))
    Abstract: In this paper we address two relevant issues among those characterising the macroeconomic literature on migration. (a) We evaluate which impact is produced by the immigration flows coming from the enlargement countries on the EU-15 labour market. (b) We draw clues on the migrant characteristics as for their skill levels. We adopt an insider/outsider model inspired by that of Amisano and Serati (2003), but enlarged in order to model the migration flows and fit to wage, participation and employment differentials between skilled and unskilled workers. We identify the structural shocks of the reduced VAR form of the model through sign restrictions imposed to the Impulse Response Functions, leaving unconstrained only the impact multipliers of relative (skilled to unskilled) wage, employment and labour force with respect to a migration shock. This is equivalent to adopt an agnostic approach, letting emerge freely the signals coming from the data: combining them with theoretical suggestions we derive at least weak indications on the fact that the skill mix of migrants is either biased towards high or low qualified labour. It does emerge that migration from Eastern European countries towards the EU-15 is mainly constituted by skilled workers and generates effects of reduction of the employment gap; on the other side, it enlarges the skilled to unskilled relative wage gap. The whole picture suggests the adoption of policies aimed at attract skilled migration through economic but also social and environmental incentives.
    Date: 2008–02
  12. By: Facchini, Giovanni; Mayda, Anna Maria; Mishra, Prachi
    Abstract: While anecdotal evidence suggests that interest groups play a key role in shaping immigration policy, there is no systematic empirical analysis of this issue. In this paper, we construct an industry-level dataset for the United States, by combining information on the number of temporary work visas with data on lobbying activity associated with immigration. We find robust evidence that both pro- and anti-immigration interest groups play a statistically significant and economically relevant role in shaping migration across sectors. Barriers to migration are lower in sectors in which business interest groups incur larger lobby expenditures and higher in sectors where labour unions are more important.
    Keywords: Immigration; Immigration Policy; Interest Groups; Political Economy
    JEL: F22 J61
    Date: 2008–07
  13. By: Facchini, Giovanni (University of Essex); Mayda, Anna Maria (Georgetown University)
    Abstract: In democratic societies individual attitudes of voters represent the foundations of policy making. We start by analyzing patterns in public opinion on migration and find that, across countries of different income levels, only a small minority of voters favour more open migration policies. Next we investigate the determinants of voters' preferences towards immigration from a theoretical and empirical point of view. Our analysis supports the role played by economic channels (labour market, welfare state, efficiency gains) using both the 1995 and 2003 rounds of the ISSP survey. The second part of the paper examines how attitudes translate into a migration policy outcome. We consider two alternative political-economy frameworks: the median voter and the interest groups model. On the one hand, the restrictive policies in place across destination countries and the very low fractions of voters favouring immigration are consistent with the median voter framework. At the same time, given the extent of individual-level opposition to immigration that appears in the data, it is somewhat puzzling, in a median-voter perspective, that migration flows take place at all. Interest-groups dynamics have the potential to explain this puzzle. We find evidence from regression analysis supporting both political-economy frameworks.
    Keywords: immigration policy, political economy, interest groups, median voter, immigration
    JEL: F22 J61
    Date: 2008–05
  14. By: Chiswick, Barry R. (University of Illinois at Chicago)
    Abstract: This paper provides an introduction and overview of my research on the Economics of Language. The approach is that language skills among immigrants and native-born linguistic minorities are a form of human capital. There are costs and benefits associated with this characteristic embodied in the person. The analysis focuses on the economic and demographic determinants of destination language proficiency among immigrants. This is based on Exposure, Efficiency and Economic Incentives (the three E’s) for proficiency. It also focuses on the labor market consequences (earnings) of proficiency for immigrants and native-born bilinguals. The empirical testing for the US, Canada, Australia, Israel and Bolivia is supportive of the theoretical models.
    Keywords: immigrants, language, bilingualism, human capital, earnings
    JEL: J15 J24 J31 J61
    Date: 2008–06
  15. By: Duncan, Brian (University of Colorado, Denver); Trejo, Stephen (University of Texas at Austin)
    Abstract: Using microdata from the 2000 U.S. Census, we analyze the responses of Mexican Americans to questions that independently elicit their “ethnicity” (or Hispanic origin) and their “ancestry.” We investigate whether different patterns of responses to these questions reflect varying degrees of ethnic attachment. For example, those identified as “Mexican” in both the Hispanic origin and the ancestry questions might have stronger ethnic ties than those identified as Mexican only in the ancestry question. How U.S.-born Mexicans report their ethnicity/ancestry is strongly associated with measures of human capital and labor market performance. In particular, educational attainment, English proficiency, and earnings are especially high for men and women who claim a Mexican ancestry but report their ethnicity as “not Hispanic.” Further, intermarriage and the Mexican identification of children are also strongly related to how U.S.-born Mexican adults report their ethnicity/ancestry, revealing a possible link between the intergenerational transmission of Mexican identification and economic status.
    Keywords: Mexican, ethnicity, ancestry, intermarriage
    JEL: J15 J12 J62
    Date: 2008–06
  16. By: Konseiga, Adama (IDEA International Institute)
    Abstract: Parental migration is often found to be negatively correlated with child health in Africa, yet the causal mechanisms are poorly understood. The paper uses a dataset that provides information from the respondent parent on child morbidity both in the rural and urban settings. Households first endogenously determine whether they will gain from participating in migration and, if they do, whether they will leave the children behind or not. The final choice is made to ensure the optimal survival chances for the child. This paper contributes to understanding the health consequences of raising the children in the context of increasing urban poverty in Nairobi, Kenya. The findings indicate that households who migrated together with their children in the slums of Nairobi experience higher child morbidity (43 per cent have at least one sick child in the last one month) as compared to households who leave children in their upcountry homes (31 per cent of morbidity rate). Even though children of migrants are safer upcountry, not all households can afford this strategy. Households are able to choose this strategy only if they have a strong social support network in their origin community and/or they are big size households. This is an important finding in targeting the Millennium Development Goals.
    Keywords: childhood morbidity, split migration, incidental truncation, informal settlements, Nairobi, Kenya
    JEL: C31 D13 I12 R23
    Date: 2008–06

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