Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 389–419 | Cite as

Immigrants assimilate as communities, not just as individuals

  • Timothy J. Hatton
  • Andrew Leigh
Original Paper


The literature on the economic assimilation of immigrants generally treats them as atomistic individuals assimilating in a largely anonymous labour market. Here, we argue that immigrants assimilate as communities, not only as individuals. The longer the immigrant community has been established, the better adjusted it becomes, and the more the host society comes to accept that ethnic group. Using data from a 5% sample of the 1980, 1990 and 2000 US censuses, we find that the stronger is the tradition of immigration from a given source region, the better are the economic outcomes for subsequent immigrants from that source.


Immigrant assimilation Ethnic origin US labour market 

JEL Classification

F22 J15 J61 



We are grateful for comments from Michele Belot, Sara Lemos and Jeff Williamson, seminar participants at the University of Leicester and the University of Nottingham, participants at the conference on The Economics of Migration, Diversity and Culture at Bologna, September 2006, participants at the ASSA Meetings in New Orleans, January 2008, editor Klaus Zimmermann and two anonymous referees. Susanne Schmidt provided outstanding research assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  2. 2.Research School of EconomicsAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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