New evidence on the economic progress of foreign-born men in the 1970s and 1980s

by Robert F. Schoeni

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This study examines the economic progress of foreign-born men in the United States. Europeans entered the United States with relatively high wages and earned wages comparable to natives over their life course. Japanese, Korean, and Chinese men entered with lower wages but quickly caught up with U.S.-born workers. Mexicans and Central Americans entered with low wages, and the wage gap between themselves and U.S.-born workers has not shrunk. Disparities in completed years of education and whether education was received in the United States can explain a large share of the differences in the level of wages. For immigrants from some countries, it is found that more highly educated men assimilate more quickly. The rate of economic progress has not improved for more recent arrivals from any country, but this is most problematic among Mexicans and Central Americans because of their relatively low rates of wage growth.

Originally published in: The Journal of Human Resources, v. 32, no. 4, pp. 683-740.

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