Immigration, Working Conditions, and Compensating Differentials

46 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020

See all articles by Chad Sparber

Chad Sparber

Colgate University

Madeline Zavodny

University of North Florida; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Agnes Scott College


The large inflow of less-educated immigrants that the United States has received in recent decades can worsen or improve U.S. natives' labor market opportunities. Although there is a general consensus that low-skilled immigrants tend to hold "worse" jobs than U.S. natives, the impact of immigration on U.S. natives' working conditions has received little attention. This study examines how immigration affected U.S. natives' occupational exposure to workplace hazards and the return to such exposure over 1990 to 2018. The results indicate that immigration causes less-educated U.S. natives' exposure to workplace hazards to fall, and instrumental variables results show a larger impact among women than among men. The compensating differential paid for hazard exposure appears to fall as well, but not after accounting for immigration-induced changes in the returns to occupational skills.

Keywords: immigration, hazardous jobs, compensating differentials, risk premium

JEL Classification: J81, J31, F22

Suggested Citation

Sparber, Chad and Zavodny, Madeline, Immigration, Working Conditions, and Compensating Differentials. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13663, Available at SSRN:

Chad Sparber (Contact Author)

Colgate University ( email )

13 Oak Drive
Hamilton NY 13346, NY 13346
United States

Madeline Zavodny

University of North Florida ( email )

4567 St. Johns Bluff Road, South
Jacksonville, FL 32224-2645
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072

Agnes Scott College ( email )

United States

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