Immigrant Earnings in the Italian Labour Market

34 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2009

Date Written: December 12, 2008


The aim of this paper is to assess the relationship between individual skills and labour market performance of immigrants residing in Lombardy during the period 2001-2005. We use a recent dataset collected by the NGO ISMU, which includes information on individual characteristics and the legal status of each immigrant. Our results show that returns on schooling are positive and range from 0.8 per cent to 0.9 per cent, a figure that is much lower than the one estimated for native Italians. This result is robust to a number of specifications and tests. In particular, it is not influenced by the legal status of the alien or by a possible self-selection in the labour supply. Moreover, although more talented immigrants tend to self-select in the Lombardy region compared with the other Italian regions, their return on schooling remains low compared with natives. We also show that a certain heterogeneity exists across educational levels and countries of origin: immigrants from Eastern Europe are better able to exploit their human capital, especially when they hold a university degree, while the school-wage profile of Latin Americans and Asians is basically flat. Finally, there is some evidence of a cohort effect in migration, but this tends to impact on the return on experience rather than on the return on schooling.

Keywords: Immigration, return on schooling, return on experience

JEL Classification: J31, O15

Suggested Citation

Accetturo, Antonio and Infante, Luigi, Immigrant Earnings in the Italian Labour Market (December 12, 2008). Bank of Italy Temi di Discussione (Working Paper) No. 695, Available at SSRN: or

Antonio Accetturo

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184

Luigi Infante (Contact Author)

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184

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