Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Returns to Foreign and Host Country Qualifications: Evidence from the US on the Labour Market Placement of Migrants and the Second Generation

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Abstract:  The integration of migrants in the US economic system is a central concern of policy-makers and scholars. A faster and smoother assimilation of valuable human capital would indeed benefit the labour market, increasing its efficiency. To investigate the integration of minorities and migrants in the US labour market, we employ data from the Current Population Survey from June 2016 (the primary source of labour force statistics in the US). We focus on the following ethnic groups: White, Black, Asian, and Other (a combination of Native Americans, Pacific and Mixed). For each ethnicity we consider if respondents are US born, 1st- or 2nd-generation of immigrant descent. Among 1st-generation migrants, we further differentiate between recent (in the country for 10 years or less) and long (in the country for more than 10 years) arrivals, as they are likely to have different levels of social capital and knowledge of the job market. We focus on three very relevant labour market outcomes: being employed, being employed in a public sector job and working in a professional or managerial position. Our results indicate better placement of individuals with tertiary degrees, an effect particularly important among women. Minorities in the public sector have made some important gains in terms of occupational attainment parity with the white majority.

Keywords:  ethnic; foreign; host country; labour market attainment; minorities; private sector; public sector; qualifications



© Sergio Lo Iacono, Neli Demireva. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.