Abstract

Although there has been much research on the effects of national origin, English speaking ability and educational attainment on the assimilation of immigrants, there has been little work on the effect of age of immigration on assimilation. This paper uses 1990 Census (IPUMS) data to assess the effects of age immigration on the relative earnings performance of 30-year-old immigrant men. Earnings regressions are run for three cohorts of immigrants defined by their age of arrival and a decomposition analysis is conducted to explain earnings gaps between each of the three immigrant cohorts and a sample of nonimmigrant men. We find that immigrants that arrive in the US before their tenth birthday have higher earnings and higher rates of return to education compared to immigrants who arrive at older age. Late arrivals, on the other hand, have a substantial earnings disadvantage relative to natives and seem to be more adversely effected by low levels of ethnic capital. We also found that a substantial income gap remained between older immigrants and natives even after estimating what their earnings would have been had they possessed the native human capital characteristics Age of arrival clearly matters and should be a consideration in designing immigration policy.

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Economics

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