The Immigrant and Native-Born Wage Distributions: Evidence from United States Censuses
Posted: 11 Apr 2003
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: Suggested Citation