Why are some immigrant groups more successful than others?

Prof Edward Glaesar’s new paper says the differences are largely due to number of immigrants and population of home country:

The larger the number of immigrants from a given country, the lower is the educational attainment and wages of that group. The pattern is a result of a selective immigration process that rations slots. Because of variations in the way the various origin countries are treated by the immigration system, a particular distribution of immigrants results, and this gives rise to differences in educational attainment and earnings by country of origin. Those countries that are given the largest number of slots tend to supply lower average ability immigrants.

For the same reason, the larger the population of the origin country, the higher the attainment number of immigrants from that country. It is easier to select one million highly educated people from India with 1.3 billion people than it is from Laos with 7 million people. Consequently, immigrants of Indian origin have higher levels of educational attainment than do immigrants of Laotian origin.

A model of selection is constructed that yields seven specific empirical implications, all of which are borne out by data from the American Communities Survey, 2011-2015. The larger the number of immigrants from an origin country, the lower the level of educational attainment, of wages, and of earnings in the US. The larger the population of the origin country, the higher the educational attainment, the higher the wages, and the higher the earnings of those immigrants in the US. A more parsimonious approach expresses predictions in terms of a representation ratio, which is a measure of how under- or over-represented a country is in the US immigrant stock. Countries that are more over-represented are predicted and found to have lower attainment in education, wages and earnings.

The theory also has implications for the difference between attainment of immigrants and that of the population in the origin country. This provides a separate test of the model, and all implications are borne out. In particular, the larger is the stock of immigrants from any given country, the smaller is the difference between the attainment of immigrants from that country and the origin population. Additionally, the larger is the population of the origin country, the larger is the difference between the attainment of immigrants from that country and the origin population.



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