Publication Date

Spring 2002


Since 1965, the US has seen increasingly large numbers of immigrants crossing its borders. Indeed, more immigrants are arriving now than at any point in the past; the 1990's saw a higher number of immigrants enter the US than any previous decade (INS 1999). A disturbing corollary to the recent explosion in immigration is the corresponding decline of immigrant earnings relative to the earnings of natives. A cursory glance at the literature strongly suggests the changing national origin of immigrants as the main cause of this relative earnings decline. As a prime example, Mexican immigrants now outnumber any other national group while having one of the biggest relative earnings gaps, with Mexican immigrant males earning on average some 50% less than males who were born in the US (Ruggles and Sobek, 1997).



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