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The legacy of immigration: labour market performance and education in the second generation

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Previous research finds that the children of immigrants, or the second generation, earn at least as much as other native born but that there are persistent ethnic differences in the intergenerational transmission of education and wages. We explain why these results are not incompatible and extend the empirical evidence in several directions using the Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics. First, we estimate a model of wages, earnings and hours worked using modern econometric techniques to corroborate earlier US results of complete integration by the second generation in the labour market. We find that ethnic differences in labour market performance are significant, but that these difference do not alter conclusions about the relative performance of the second generation. Second, we find a source of superior labour market performance for the second generation in higher educational attainment, which constitutes an important legacy of immigration that should not be ignored. Third, we find that the definition of the second generation matters. Men and women with two immigrant parents achieve about one additional year of education, while those with one immigrant parent achieve about one-half that educational advantage. We conclude that the education effect of an immigrant mother or father are comparable.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Economics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg MB R3T 5V5, Canada

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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