Title: Immigrants’ Economic Assimilation: Evidence from Matched Administrative Records
Abstract: Immigrants’ ability to succeed in the labor market and achieve economic parity with natives has significant long-term implications for their well-being and that of their children. In this talk I will present findings from two studies examining immigrants’ economic assimilation using a dataset that links respondents of the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) to their individual tax records. The first study examines the lifetime earnings trajectories of immigrants and measures the extent and speed with which they are able to reduce the earnings gap with natives. Findings from this study address key debates regarding ethnoracial and cohort differences in immigrants’ earnings trajectories. First, we find a racially differentiated pattern of earnings assimilation: black and Hispanic immigrants are less able to catch up with native whites’ earnings compared to white and Asian immigrants, but they are almost able to reach earnings parity with natives of their same race and ethnicity. Second, contrary to previous studies we find no evidence that recent immigrant cohorts are experiencing lower earnings growth. The second study examines immigrants’ job instability. We find that foreign-born men, particularly those who are undocumented, were at higher risk of losing their job and becoming involuntarily underemployed during the Great Recession even after controlling for demographic factors and job characteristics.