, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 53-72
Date: 15 Sep 2012

Human capital and wages: a comparison of Albanian and Italian immigrants

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Abstract

This paper identifies the factors influencing earnings gaps between migrants belonging to old immigrant groups (defined as those with long established migration linkages with the receiving country) and those belonging to new immigrant groups. Earnings are conceptualized as a function of human capital, decomposed into the portion acquired in the home country and the portion acquired in the receiving country. It is hypothesized that poor transferability of human capital acquired at home dampens wages more for new than for old immigrant groups. Further, it is hypothesized that upon arrival in the destination, new immigrant groups accumulate human capital faster than old immigrant groups. The empirical analysis focuses on Albanians in the United States as a representative of a new immigrant group and Italians as a representative of an old immigrant group. The analysis is based on pooled data from the 2000 US Census 5 % sample, and the 2001–2007 American Community Survey (ACS) 3 % sample. Findings suggest that (1) Albanian immigrants earn substantially less than Italian immigrants; (2) human capital acquired at home has a positive impact on wages, but the level of human capital transferability is low for Albanians; (3) upon arrival, both Italian and Albanian immigrants accumulate human capital, but the speed of human capital accumulation is faster for Albanians than for Italians.