Nations of Immigrants

Nations of Immigrants

Australia and the USA Compared

Monash Studies in Global Movements series

Edited by John Higley, John Nieuwenhuysen and Stine Neerup

This timely book examines the immense surges in immigration since the mid-1990s in Australia and the United States, two of the world’s most important settler-receiving countries.

Chapter 7: Immigration and the United States Labour Market

Brian Duncan and Stephen J. Trejo

Subjects: development studies, development studies, migration, politics and public policy, international politics, international relations, migration, public policy, social policy and sociology, migration, urban and regional studies, migration


Brian Duncan and Stephen J. Trejo Over the last several decades two of the most significant developments in the US labour market have been rising inequality and growth in both the size and the diversity of immigration flows. Because a large share of new immigrants arrive with very low levels of schooling, English proficiency and other skills that have become increasingly important determinants of success in the labour market, an obvious concern is that such immigrants are a poor fit for the restructured US economy. In this chapter we evaluate this concern by discussing evidence for the US on two relevant topics: the labour market integration of immigrants and the impact of immigration on the wages and employment opportunities of native workers. To set the stage regarding immigrant skills we calculated the educational distributions of native and immigrant men from US Census microdata for the year 2000.1 Fully a third of foreign-born men have less than 12 years of schooling, compared to only 9 per cent of native-born men. The contrast is even more striking for men with less than nine years of schooling; this group represents 24 per cent of the immigrant population and less than 3 per cent of the native population. Looking at this same phenomenon from a slightly different perspective, immigrants comprise only about 13 per cent of the overall sample of men, but they make up 35 per cent of the men with less than 12 years of schooling and almost 60 per cent of...

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