Economic convergence between black immigrants and black natives

Alison Jane Rauh, a job candidate from the University of Chicago, has a new (job market) paper on this topic.  The abstract is full of information:

The number of black immigrants living in the US has increased 13-fold from 1970 to 2010, increasing their share of the black population from 1% to 10%. Black immigrants’ labor market outcomes surpass those of native blacks. This paper determines in how far the relative success of black immigrants is passed on to the second generation. While blacks of the second generation have equal or higher education and earnings levels than the first generation, the return on their unobservable characteristics is converging to that of native blacks. Race premia are put into a broader context by comparing them to Hispanics, Asians, and whites. Blacks are the only group that experiences a decrease in residual earnings when moving from the first to the second generation. Black immigrants do not only converge to native blacks across generations but also within a generation. For Asians and Hispanics, residual earnings decrease monotonically with age of immigration. For blacks, the residual earnings-age of immigration profile is upward sloping for those immigrating before the age of 15. Convergence across generations is mostly driven by low-educated second generation blacks that drop out the labor force in greater numbers than low-educated first generation immigrants do. Similarly, convergence within a generation is mostly driven by low-educated blacks who immigrate when they are young dropping out of the labor force in greater numbers than those who immigrate when they are older. A social interactions model with an assimilation parameter that varies by age of immigration helps explain this phenomenon. When making their labor force participation decision, immigrant men of all races, but not women, generally place more weight on the characteristics of natives the earlier they immigrate.

I take this to be a “peer effects are really really important” paper, namely that many of the virtues of immigrant culture are swallowed as the second generation assimilates.  I should note that the contents of this paper are interesting throughout, for instance: “Conditional and unconditional annual earnings of native black women are at 91% and 78% of white women, which points to a much more equal distribution than that of men (64% and 78%).”

Here is the abstract of another paper  (pdf) by Alison, entitled “Successful Black Immigrants Narrow Black-White Achievement Gaps”:

The number of black immigrants in the US quadrupled from 1980 to 2010, increasing their share of the black population from 4% to 10%. During that time period the black-white wage and employment gap widened substantially. This paper explores the extent native blacks differ from immigrant blacks. Additionally it determines in how far increased selective immigration masks an even greater deterioration in the economic condition of native blacks. In 2011, excluding black immigrants increases the white-black wage gap by 4% for men and 9% for women. It increases the employment gap by 13% and 19% for men and women respectively.

Here is the author’s home page.  I hope she gets a very good job.


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