NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Workplace Concentration of Immigrants

Fredrik Andersson, Mónica García-Pérez, John C. Haltiwanger, Kristin McCue, Seth Sanders

NBER Working Paper No. 16544
Issued in November 2010
NBER Program(s):   EFG   LS   PR

To what extent do immigrants and the native-born work in separate workplaces? Do worker and firm characteristics explain the degree of workplace concentration? We explore these questions using a matched employer-employee database that extensively covers employers in selected MSAs. We find that immigrants are much more likely to have immigrant coworkers than are natives, and are particularly likely to work with their compatriots. We find much higher levels of concentration for small businesses than for large ones, that concentration varies substantially across industries, and that concentration is particularly high among immigrants with limited English skills. We also find evidence that neighborhood job networks are strongly positively associated with concentration. The effects of networks and language remain strong when type is defined by country of origin rather than simply immigrant status. The importance of these factors varies by immigrant country of origin—for example, not speaking English well has a particularly strong association with concentration for immigrants from Asian countries. Controlling for differences across MSAs, we find that observable employer and employee characteristics account for almost half of the difference between immigrants and natives in the likelihood of having immigrant coworkers, with differences in industry, residential segregation and English speaking skills being the most important factors.

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A data appendix is available at http://www.nber.org/data-appendix/w16544

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16544

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