Assimilation of Immigrants in Spain: A Longitudinal Analysis

33 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2009

Date Written: March 24, 2009


In this paper we use the Continuous Sample of Working Histories 2005 (MCVL2005) to analyze the earnings assimilation of migrants from outside the EU-15 in Spain. Using our panel dataset we show that immigrants reduce around the half of the initial wage gap respect to natives the first 5 to 6 years after arrival. However, no further reductions of the remaining wage gap are estimated. We also show that results based on cross-section data are downward biased since an important increase in the quality of migrants has taken place over the recent years. This skill upgrading of new immigrant cohorts is evident in the Spanish case as well as the depreciation of the value of most of the experience that is brought from abroad. We can associate the improvement in the skill of immigrants to a change in the composition of new entrants. An important mechanism underlying the assimilation is the higher likelihood of recent immigrants in changing jobs among different sectors and firms, but also improving their situation within the same firm. Finally, some caveats should be taken into account when interpreting our results given that immigration phenomenon is quite recent in the Spanish labour market and it has taken place in an especially positive economic environment.

Keywords: Immigration, assimilation, longitudinal data, selection, human capital

JEL Classification: J31, J61

Suggested Citation

Izquierdo, Mario and Lacuesta, Aitor and Vegas, Raquel, Assimilation of Immigrants in Spain: A Longitudinal Analysis (March 24, 2009). Banco de Espana Working Paper No. 0904. Available at SSRN: or

Mario Izquierdo

Banco de España ( email )

Alcala 50
Madrid 28014

Aitor Lacuesta (Contact Author)

Banco de España ( email )

Madrid 28014

Raquel Vegas

FEDEA ( email )

Jorge Juan 46
Madrid, 28001


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