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Immigrants' Earnings Growth and Return Migration from the U.S.: Examining their Determinants using Linked Survey and Administrative Data

Randall Akee, Maggie R. Jones

NBER Working Paper No. 25639
Issued in March 2019
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

Using a novel panel data set of recent immigrants to the U.S. (2005–2007) from individual-level linked U.S. Census Bureau survey data and Internal Revenue Service administrative records, we identify the determinants of return migration and earnings assimilation. We show that by 10 years after arrival almost 40 percent have return migrated. We show, for the first time, that return migrants experience downward earnings mobility over two to three years prior to their return migration. This finding suggests that economic shocks are closely related to emigration decisions. As a result, standard calculations of immigrants earnings growth may be understated.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25639

 
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