June 16, 2016

New report: Immigrants should be paid the same as native workers

Immigrants will never earn as much as native workers, but they should

According to a new report, written by economist Kathryn Anderson and published by IZA World of Labor today, there is a large wage gap between immigrant and native workers. This wage gap lessens over time (a number of decades), but never closes for many immigrant groups.

Closing the wage gap will benefit the economy, society, and immigrant workers because they fill labor shortages ensuring a productive national workforce. With the world’s populations aging, countries need to make themselves appealing for migrant workers to fill labor shortages, and less pay disparity would be a step in the right direction.

Society benefits most if immigrants become productive, integrated residents so policies which improve training and employment prospects for immigrants, remove barriers to jobs, and provide a pathway to citizenship are win-win.

Research shows that:

  • Immigrants boost the economy of the host country but earn far less than native workers
  • Migrants from ethnic groups most dissimilar to native workers receive lowest wages of all
  • Immigrant wage assimilation is affected by year of entry, immigrant skill, ethnicity, and gender

Kathryn Anderson says: “My research shows that policies can facilitate assimilation of immigrant workers if they provide early support for education, training, and language development. Some of the most effective assimilation policies reduce legal barriers to entry into jobs, assess and validate job skills, and provide a pathway to citizenship.”

Can immigrants ever earn as much as native workers?, by Kathryn H. Anderson publishes on June 16.

Kathryn Anderson is Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University and has been an IZA fellow since 2011.

Please contact Sarah Williams at Bloomsbury for more information: sarah.williams@bloomsbury.com   

Notes for editors:

  • IZA World of Labor (http://wol.iza.org) is a global, freely available online resource that provides policy makers, academics, journalists, and researchers, with clear, concise and evidence-based knowledge on labor economics issues worldwide.
  • The site offers relevant and succinct information on topics including diversity, migration, minimum wage, youth unemployment, employment protection, development, education, gender balance, labor mobility and flexibility among others.
  • Established in 1998, the Institute for the Study of Labor (www.iza.org) is an independent economic research institute focused on the analysis of global labour markets. Based in Bonn, it operates an international network of about 1,300 economists and researchers spanning more than 45 countries.