The Substitutability of Labor of Selected Ethnic Groups in the Us Labor Market

29 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2006

See all articles by Martin Kahanec

Martin Kahanec

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Central European University; Central European Labour Studies Institute

Date Written: January 2006


This paper investigates the substitutability of labor of selected ethnic groups in the US labor market. In the generalized Leontief framework, the analysis of US census-based data reveals that labor of non-White ethnic groups is complementary to that of White ethnic groups. This finding supports the view that the negative relationship between the relative earnings of an ethnic group and its relative size is a labor market phenomenon. Moreover, it implies that ethnic diversity of labor force has positive effects on aggregate output. While the estimated elasticities of complementarity are relatively small, they are shown to generate significant effects, given the very uneven distribution of ethnic groups across local labor markets, as resulting from long-run migration patterns.

Keywords: substitutability, elasticity of substitution, ethnic group, labor market

JEL Classification: J15, J24

Suggested Citation

Kahanec, Martin, The Substitutability of Labor of Selected Ethnic Groups in the Us Labor Market (January 2006). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1945. Available at SSRN:

Martin Kahanec (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Central European University ( email )

Nador utca 9
Budapest, H-1051

Central European Labour Studies Institute ( email )

Zvolensk√° 29
Bratislava, 82109


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