Performance of migrants

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Crime and immigration

Do poor labor market opportunities lead to migrant crime?

10.15185/izawol.33 33 Bell, B

by Brian Bell

Immigration is one of the most important policy debates in Western countries. However, one aspect of the debate is often mischaracterized by accusations that higher levels of immigration lead to higher levels of crime. The evidence, based on empirical studies of many countries, indicates that there is no simple link between immigration and crime, but legalizing the status of immigrants has beneficial effects on crime rates. Crucially, the evidence points to substantial differences in the impact on property crime, depending on the labor market opportunities of immigrant groups.

Skill-based immigration, economic integration, and economic performance

Benefiting from highly skilled immigrants requires a complementary mix of immigrant selection and economic integration policies

10.15185/izawol.41 41 Aydemir, A

by Abdurrahman B. Aydemir

Studies for major immigrant-receiving countries provide evidence on the comparative economic performance of immigrant classes (skill-, kinship-, and humanitarian-based). Developed countries are increasingly competing for high-skilled immigrants, who perform better in the labor market. However, there are serious challenges to their economic integration, which highlights a need for complementary immigration and integration policies.

Anonymous job applications and hiring discrimination

Anonymous job applications can level the playing field in access to jobs but cannot prevent all forms of discrimination

10.15185/izawol.48 48 Rinne, U

by Ulf Rinne

The use of anonymous job applications to combat hiring discrimination is gaining attention and interest. Results from a number of field experiments in European countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden are considered here) shed light on their potential to reduce some of the discriminatory barriers to hiring for minority and other disadvantaged groups. But although this approach can achieve its primary aims, there are also some cautions to consider.

What determines the net fiscal effects of migration?

Proactive policies result in a better labor market integration

10.15185/izawol.78 78 Hinte, H

by Holger Hinte

Do migration policies affect whether immigrants contribute more to public finances than they receive as transfer payments? Yes. But simply accumulating the annual fiscal transfers to and fiscal contributions by migrants is not sufficient to identify the policy impact and the potential need for reform. What is also required is measuring the present value of taxes contributed and transfers received by individuals over their lifespans. Results underscore the need for, and the economic benefits of, active migration and integration strategies.

The impact of migration on trade

Immigrants are good for trade

10.15185/izawol.82 82 Genç, M

by Murat Genç

International trade and migration are two important dimensions of globalization. Although governments have been very willing to open their borders to trade, they have not been so liberal in their immigration policies. It has been suggested, however, that a causal positive link might exist between immigration and trade. Could governments further increase international trade by also opening their doors to immigrants? If they could, does it matter what type of immigrants are encouraged? And is there a saturation level of immigrants after which this positive impact disappears?

Immigrants and entrepreneurship

Business ownership is higher among immigrants, but promoting self-employment is unlikely to improve outcomes for less skilled immigrants

10.15185/izawol.85 85 Lofstrom, M

by Magnus Lofstrom

Immigrants are widely perceived to be highly entrepreneurial, contributing to economic growth and innovation, and self-employment is often viewed as a means of enhancing labor market integration and success among immigrants. Accordingly, many countries have established special visas and entry requirements to attract immigrant entrepreneurs. Research supports some of these stances, but expectations may be too high. There is no strong evidence that self-employment is an effective tool of upward economic mobility among low-skilled immigrants. More broadly prioritizing high-skilled immigrants may prove to be more successful than focusing on entrepreneurship.

Who benefits from the minimum wage—natives or migrants?

There is no evidence that increases in the minimum wage have hurt immigrants

10.15185/izawol.98 98 Zavodny, M

by Madeline Zavodny

According to economic theory, a minimum wage reduces the number of low-wage jobs and increases the number of available workers, allowing greater hiring selectivity. More competition for a smaller number of low-wage jobs will disadvantage immigrants if employers perceive them as less skilled than native-born workers—and vice versa. Studies indicate that a higher minimum wage does not hurt immigrants, but there is no consensus on whether immigrants benefit at the expense of natives. Studies also reach disparate conclusions on whether higher minimum wages attract or repel immigrants.

Are married immigrant women secondary workers?

Patterns of labor market assimilation for married immigrant women are similar to those for men

10.15185/izawol.119 119 Ferrer, A

by Ana Ferrer

What is the role of married women in immigrant households? Their contribution to the labor market has traditionally been considered of secondary importance and studied in the framework of temporary attachment to the labor force to support the household around the time of arrival. But this role has changed. Evidence from major immigrant-receiving countries suggests that married immigrant women make labor supply decisions similar to those recently observed for native-born married women, who are guided by their own opportunities in the labor market rather than by their spouses’ employment trajectories.

Ethnic minority self-employment

Poor paid employment prospects push minority workers into working for themselves, often in low-reward work

10.15185/izawol.120 120 Clark, K

by Ken Clark

In many countries, ethnic minority groups are over-represented in self-employment compared with the majority community. The kind of work done by minority entrepreneurs can therefore be an important driver of the economic well-being of their ethnic group. Furthermore, growing the self-employment sector is a policy objective for many governments, which see it as a source of innovation, economic growth, and employment. While self-employment might offer economic opportunities to minority groups, it is important to understand the factors that underlie the nature and extent of ethnic entrepreneurship to evaluate whether policy measures should support it.

Who benefits from return migration to developing countries?

Despite returnees being a potential resource, not all developing countries benefit from their return

10.15185/izawol.123 123 Wahba, J

by Jackline Wahba

Return migration can have multiple benefits. It allows migrants who have accumulated savings abroad to ease credit constraints at home and set up a business. Also, emigrants from developing countries who have invested in their human capital may earn higher wages when they return. However, whether the home country benefits from return migrants depends on the migrant’s success in accumulating savings and human capital and on the home country’s ability to make use of returnees’ skills and investment. To benefit from returnees, home countries need policies that encourage returnees’ investment and labor market reintegration.

Immigrant labor and work-family decisions of native-born women

As immigration lowers childcare and housework costs, native-born women alter their work and fertility decisions

10.15185/izawol.139 139 Furtado, D

by Delia Furtado

Many countries are reviewing immigration policy, focusing on wage and employment effects for workers whose jobs may be threatened by immigration. Less attention is given to effects on prices of goods and services. The effect on childcare prices is particularly relevant to policies for dealing with the gender pay gap and below-replacement fertility rates, both thought to be affected by the difficulty of combining work and family. New research suggests immigration lowers the cost of household services and high-skilled women respond by working more or having more children.

Income of immigrants and their return

Both low- and high-income immigrants stay for a relatively short time

10.15185/izawol.141 141 Bijwaard, G

by Govert E. Bijwaard

The majority of immigrants stay only temporarily in the host country. When many migrations are temporary, it is important to know who leaves and who stays, and why. The key questions for the host country are whether immigrants are net contributors to the welfare system and whether migrants assimilate quickly. The key questions for the home country are whether migrants return and who returns. The host country gains when unsuccessful migrants leave, while the home country may gain when successful migrants leave. Empirical evidence reveals that both low-income-earning and high-income-earning migrants leave the host country quite soon.

Migrants and educational achievement gaps

Avoiding segregation and compensating for parental disadvantage can reduce migrants’ educational achievement gaps

10.15185/izawol.146 146 Entorf, H

by Horst Entorf

As global migration flows increase, so do the number of migrant students in host country schools. Yet migrants’ achievement scores lag well behind those of their native-born schoolmates. Performance gaps are explained largely by differences in migrant parents’ socio-economic background, cultural capital, and language skills. Education policy needs to focus on language teaching, parental involvement, diversity training, and beneficial social interaction between immigrant and native-born populations. With the wealth of many industrialized countries threatened by a lack of qualified labor, education of immigrants should be an important priority.

Can immigrants ever earn as much as native workers?

Immigrants initially earn less than natives; the wage gap falls over time, but for many immigrant groups it never closes

10.15185/izawol.159 159 Anderson, K

by Kathryn H. Anderson

Immigrants contribute to the economic development of the host country, but they earn less at entry and it takes many years for them to achieve parity of income. For some immigrant groups, the wage gap never closes. There is a wide variation across countries in the entry wage gap and the speed of wage assimilation over time. Wage assimilation is affected by year of entry, immigrant skill, ethnicity, and gender. Policies that facilitate assimilation of immigrant workers provide support for education, language, and employment. Such policies can also reduce barriers to entry, encourage naturalization, and target selection of immigrants.

Intermarriage and the economic success of immigrants

Who is the driving factor—the native spouses or the immigrants themselves?

10.15185/izawol.160 160 Nottmeyer, O

by Olga K. Nottmeyer

Marriages between immigrants and natives (intermarriages) are often associated with economic success and interpreted as an indicator of social integration. Intermarried immigrant men are on average better educated and work in better paid jobs than nonintermarried immigrant men. In this context, native spouses could deliver valuable insights into the host country and provide business contacts. However, intermarriage may not be the driving factor of economic success but instead be its byproduct, as better education and personal characteristics could be both economically beneficial and increase the likelihood of meeting natives. Intermarriage might also be more “suspense-packed” (positively and negatively) and can thus be associated with an increase in severe stress and a higher risk of divorce.

What drives the language proficiency of immigrants?

Immigrants differ in their language proficiency along a range of characteristics

10.15185/izawol.177 177 Isphording, I

by Ingo E. Isphording

Language proficiency is a key driver of immigrant integration. It increases job opportunities and facilitates social and political participation. However, despite its vital importance, many immigrants never reach adequate proficiency in the host country language. Therefore, insights into the underlying processes and associated factors are crucial for designing measures to improve language acquisition. Empirical evidence shows that immigrants differ in their ability to learn languages, in their experience of everyday language usage, and their incentives to learn host country languages. This offers a range of opportunities for public policy intervention.

Immigrants in the classroom and effects on native children

Having immigrant children in the classroom may sometimes, but not always, harm educational outcomes of native children

10.15185/izawol.194 194 Jensen, P

by Peter Jensen

Many countries are experiencing increasing inflows of immigrant students. This raises concerns that having a large share of students for whom the host country language is not their first language may have detrimental effects on the educational outcomes of native children. However, the evidence is mixed, with some studies finding negative effects, and others finding no effects. Whether higher concentrations of immigrant students have an effect on native students differs across countries according to factors such as organization of the school system and immigrants’ socio-economic background.

Migrant well-being after leaving transition economies

Evidence is mixed on whether quality of life improves for migrants from post-socialist economies

10.15185/izawol.195 195 Nikolova, M

by Milena Nikolova

Most comparative research suggests that immigrants from post-socialist countries earn less than natives, work in jobs for which they are overqualified, and may experience unhappiness compared with natives, other immigrants, and non-migrants. In contrast, one study presents causal evidence which shows that moving from transition economies to live in the West increases the incomes, life satisfaction, and freedom perceptions of those who move. Credibly assessing whether leaving transition economies improves movers’ quality of life remains a challenging empirical question.

Occupational choice of return migrants

Migrant-sending countries can significantly benefit from the type of occupation chosen by return migrants

10.15185/izawol.197 197 Piracha, M

by Matloob Piracha

The occupational choice of return migrants is important to their home country. Return migrants are likely to have acquired human capital while abroad, either through formal training or by working in a more efficient labor market. The employment of these newly acquired skills in the home country can have important economic implications. Examining the choice of return migrants to engage in wage employment, self-
employment, entrepreneurial activity, or to remain out of the labor market makes it possible to ascertain whether the initial migration decision benefited the home country as well as the migrants and their families.

Consequences of the obesity epidemic for immigrants

When migrants move to countries with high obesity rates, does assimilation lead to labor market penalties and higher health care costs?

10.15185/izawol.210 210 Argys, L

by Laura Argys

Upon arrival in a host country, immigrants often have lower obesity rates (as measured for instance by BMI—body mass index) than their native counterparts do, but these rates converge over time. In light of the worldwide obesity epidemic and the flow of immigrants into host countries with higher obesity rates, it is important to understand the consequences of such assimilation. Policymakers could benefit from a discussion of the impact of immigrant obesity on labor market outcomes and the use of public services. In particular, policies could find ways to improve immigrants’ access to health care for both the prevention and treatment of obesity.

Legalizing undocumented immigrants

While legalization benefits most undocumented immigrants, deciding how to regularize them is challenging

10.15185/izawol.245 245 Bansak, C

by Cynthia Bansak

Addressing unauthorized immigration is controversial. Countries have adopted a variety of legalization programs, ranging from temporary visa programs to naturalization. Research in the US focused on past amnesty programs finds improved labor market outcomes for newly legalized immigrants. Findings are more mixed for European countries. Studies suggest that regularization of undocumented immigrants can result in increased use of public benefits and reduced formal labor market participation. Despite widespread disagreement, legalization is widely used in practice.

Integrating refugees into labor markets

Economic integration of refugees into their host country is important and benefits both parties

10.15185/izawol.269 269 Bevelander, P

by Pieter Bevelander

For the first time since the Second World War, the total number of refugees amounts to more than 50 million people. Only a minority of these refugees seek asylum, and even fewer resettle in developed countries. At the same time, politicians, the media, and the public are worried about a lack of economic integration. Refugees start at a lower employment and income level, but subsequently “catch up” to the level of family unification migrants. However, both refugees and family migrants do not “catch up” to the economic integration levels of labor migrants. A faster integration process would significantly benefit refugees and their new host countries.

Ethnic enclaves and immigrant economic integration

High-quality enclave networks encourage labor market success for newly arriving immigrants

10.15185/izawol.287 287 Schüller, S

by Simone Schüller

Immigrants are typically not evenly distributed within host countries; instead they tend to cluster in particular neighborhoods. But does clustering in ethnic enclaves help explain the persistent differences in employment rates and earnings between immigrants and the native population? Empirical studies consistently find that residing in an enclave can increase earnings. While it is still ambiguous whether mainly low-skilled immigrants benefit, or whether employment probabilities are affected, it is clear that effects are driven by enclave “quality” (in terms of income, education, and employment rates) rather than enclave size.

Immigrants’ occupational mobility—Down and back up again

The occupational status of most immigrants initially declines but then increases

10.15185/izawol.290 290 Zorlu, A

by Aslan Zorlu

Evidence suggests that immigrants face an initial decline in their occupational status when they enter the host country labor market but that their position improves as they acquire more country-specific human, cultural, and occupational capital. High-skilled immigrants from countries that are economically, linguistically, and culturally different from the host country experience the greatest decline and the steepest subsequent increase in their occupational status. In the context of sharp international competition to attract high-skilled immigrants, this adjustment pattern is contradictory and discourages potential high-skilled migrants.

What are the consequences of regularizing undocumented immigrants?

When countries regularize undocumented residents, their work, wages, and human capital investment opportunities change

10.15185/izawol.296 296 Kossoudji, S

by Sherrie A. Kossoudji

Millions of people enter (or remain in) countries without permission as they flee violence, war, or economic hardship. Regularization policies that offer residence and work rights have multiple and multi-layered effects on the economy and society, but they always directly affect the labor market opportunities of those who are regularized. Large numbers of undocumented people in many countries, a new political willingness to fight for human and civil rights, and dramatically increasing refugee flows mean continued pressure to enact regularization policies.