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Immigrant Earnings Assimilation in the United States: A Panel Analysis

Deborah Rho and Seth Sanders

Journal of Labor Economics, 2021, vol. 39, issue 1, 37 - 78

Abstract: We construct the first long-term comparison of cross-sectional and panel estimates of immigrant earnings assimilation in the United States from a single data source. Unlike previous results, we find that selective out-migration of higher-earning immigrants biases downward cross-sectional estimates for all education groups. Cross-sectional estimates dramatically understate earnings growth for high-skilled foreign-born workers. The bias stems from both selective out-migration and selective employment; among high-skilled immigrants, low earners find employment with a substantial delay, while high earners work immediately on arrival. We present suggestive evidence that the H-1B visa program may play a role in estimated immigrant earnings dynamics.

Date: 2021
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