The Immigrant and Native-Born Wage Distributions: Evidence from United States Censuses

Posted: 11 Apr 2003

See all articles by Kristin F. Butcher

Kristin F. Butcher

Wellesley College; NBER

John E. DiNardo

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Abstract

Recent studies document a large widening of the immigrant/native-born mean wage gap since about 1970, a trend that some observers ascribe to post-1965 changes in U.S. immigration policy. These studies are limited, however, by their exclusive focus on men, which ignores important gender differences in the wage gap, and by the inadequacy of the mean wage for characterizing the gap when, as in recent decades, the wage distribution dramatically changes. This study of recent immigrants examines changes across the entire wage distribution, for both genders. The authors find evidence, based partly on gender differences, that minimum wages strongly influenced the gap. A counterfactual analysis also indicates that if recent immigrants in 1970 had faced the 1990 wage structure, their wage distrubtion would have closely resembled that of recent immigrants in 1990. These and other results suggest that the increasing wage gap is linked to changes in the wage structure.

Keywords: immigration, wage distribution, inequality

JEL Classification: J61, J310, C14

Suggested Citation

Butcher, Kristin Frances and DiNardo, John, The Immigrant and Native-Born Wage Distributions: Evidence from United States Censuses. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 56, No. 1, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=352420

Kristin Frances Butcher

Wellesley College ( email )

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John DiNardo (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jdinardo/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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