Immigrants Assimilate as Communities, Not Just as Individuals

39 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2007

See all articles by Timothy J. Hatton

Timothy J. Hatton

University of Essex - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Andrew Leigh

Australian House of Representatives Parliament House; Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, ANU; IZA

Date Written: January 2007

Abstract

There is a large econometric literature that examines the economic assimilation of immigrants in the United States and elsewhere. On the whole immigrants are seen as atomistic individuals assimilating in a largely anonymous labour market, a view that runs counter to the spirit of the equally large literature on ethnic groups. Here we argue that immigrants assimilate as communities, not just as individuals. The longer the immigrant community has been established the better adjusted it is to the host society and the more the host society comes to accept that ethnic group. Thus economic outcomes for immigrants should depend not just on their own characteristics, but also on the legacy of past immigration from the same country. In this paper we test this hypothesis using data from a 5 percent sample of the 1980, 1990 and 2000 US censuses. We find that history matters in immigrant assimilation: the stronger is the tradition of immigration from a given source country, the better the economic outcomes for new immigrants from that source.

Keywords: immigration, assimilation, US labor market

JEL Classification: F2, J3, J6

Suggested Citation

Hatton, Timothy J. and Leigh, Andrew, Immigrants Assimilate as Communities, Not Just as Individuals (January 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 2538, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=957254

Timothy J. Hatton (Contact Author)

University of Essex - Department of Economics ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom
+44 1206 872182 (Phone)
+44 1206 872724 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Andrew Leigh

Australian House of Representatives Parliament House ( email )

Canberra, 2600
Australia

Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, ANU ( email )

ANU College of Business and Economics
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

IZA ( email )

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