The Impact of Assimilation on the Earnings of Immigrants: A Reexamination of the Evidence
This paper reexamines the empirical basisfor two "facts" which seem to be found in most cross-section studies of immigrant earnings: (1) the earnings of immigrants grow rapidly as they assimilate into the U.S.; and (2) this rapid growth leads to many immigrants overtaking the earnings of the native-born within 10-15 years after immigration. Using the 1970 and 1980 U.S.Censuses, this paper studies the earnings growth experienced by specific immigrant cohorts during the 1970-1980 period. It is found that within-cohort growth is significantly smaller than the growth predicted by cross-section regressions for most immigrant groups. This differentialis consistent with the hypothesis that there has been a secular decline in the "quality" of immigrants admitted to the United States.