The Impact of Migration on Earnings Inequality

54 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2019

Date Written: 2018-08-01


This paper examines the impact of migration on earnings inequality using 1940--2015 data from the U.S. census and American Community Survey. Despite measurement challenges, I successfully replicate existing findings regarding national trends in earnings inequality and migration, and subsequently analyze regional and state patterns. Using 1940 birthplace information to instrument for migration, I find that recent immigration mildly increases the top decile earnings share, while recent in-migration and out-migration have no significant effects on such inequality. I estimate that immigration contributed 5.8 percent to the observed rise in U.S. earnings inequality from 1950 to 2015, primarily through a non-migrant channel.

Keywords: migration, earnings inequality

JEL Classification: D31, F22, R23

Suggested Citation

Jackson, Osborne, The Impact of Migration on Earnings Inequality (2018-08-01). FRB of Boston Working Paper No. 19-5. Available at SSRN:

Osborne Jackson (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ( email )

600 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
United States

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