How Labor Migrants Fare

Part of the series Population Economics pp 377-403

Public policy and the labor market adjustment of new immigrants to Australia

  • Deborah A. Cobb-ClarkAffiliated withSPEAR Centre, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Two separate cohorts of immigrants to Australia are compared in order to assess the potential role of immigrant selection criteria, labor market conditions, and income-support policy in facilitating the labor market adjustment of new arrivals. Although these two cohorts entered Australia only five years apart, their initial labor market outcomes varied dramatically. The results indicate that changes in immigration policy may have led to increased human capital endowments that in turn resulted in higher participation rates and reduced unemployment. At the same time, improvement in Australian labor market conditions and changes in policy over the 1990s 2014 which most likely altered the returns to human capital 2014 were probably instrumental in reinforcing the effects of tighter immigrant selection criteria. As much as half of the fall in unemployment rates among women and one third the decline among men appears to have occurred as the result of changes in the returns to demographic and human capital characteristics.

Key words

Immigrant labor market assimilation selection criteria public policy

JEL classification

J6 J1