The Role of the Family in Immigrants' Labor-Market Activity: Evidence from the United States

Francine D. Blau, Lawrence M. Kahn, Joan Y. Moriarty, Andre Portela Souza

NBER Working Paper No. 9051
Issued in July 2002
NBER Program(s):Labor Studies

We use Census of Population microdata for 1980 and 1990 to examine the labor supply and wages of immigrant husbands and wives in the United States in a family context. Earlier research by Baker and Benjamin (1997) posits a family investment model in which, upon arrival, immigrant husbands invest in their human capital while immigrant wives work to provide the family with liquidity during this period. Consistent with this model, they find for Canada that immigrant wives work longer hours upon arrival than comparable natives, but, with time in Canada, they are eventually overtaken by native wives. In contrast, we find that, among immigrants to the United States, both husbands and wives work and earn less than comparable natives upon arrival, with similar shortfalls for men and women. Further, both immigrant husbands and wives have similar, positive assimilation profiles in wages and labor supply and eventually overtake both the wages and the labor supply of comparable natives.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9051

Published: Blau, Francine D., Lawrence M. Kahn, Joan Moriarty, and Andre Souza. "The Role of the Family in Immigrants’ Labor-Market Activity: An Evaluation of Alternative Explanations: Comment." American Economic Review (March 2003).

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