Labor Market Incorporation of Immigrants in Japan and the United States: A Comparative Analysis (Working Paper #50)


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Takeyuki Tsuda, University of California, San Diego

Wayne A. Cornelius, University of California, San Diego

Abstract: The most commonly used model of labor market incorporation among immigrants in the United States analyzes their earnings largely as a function of human capital variables such as education, language competence, age, length of residence and employment experience in the receiving country. However, such a simple model is not necessarily cross-culturally applicable and may lose much of its explanatory power in other societies, where immigrants encounter different labor market conditions. This paper estimates multivariate models of wage determination among samples of foreign workers interviewed in 1996 in San Diego County, California, and the Japanese industrial city of Hamamatsu. In contrast to San Diego, the standard measures of achieved human capital do not significantly influence immigrant wages in Hamamatsu. Instead, ascribed human capital (e.g., gender, ethnicity) has a much greater impact on immigrant wages in Japan than in the United States. Although the use of social networks by immigrants to find jobs has a significant impact on wages in both countries, the effect is positive in Hamamatsu, whereas it is negative in San Diego. The paper draws on data from ethnographic studies in Japan and California to suggest explanations for these divergent results. More generally, the paper illustrates the importance of reception contexts (host societies) in determining labor market outcomes for immigrant workers.

Working Paper #50»

Gender and Migration: An Integrative Approach (Working Paper #49)

Nana Oishi, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Abstract: This paper is a synopsis of Oishi’s forthcoming book Women in Motion: Globalization, State Policies, and Labor Migration in Asia (Stanford University Press), which analyzes the mechanisms involved in international female migration in Asia. Acknowledging the shortcomings of previous studies that focus too much on migrantreceiving countries and/or a single country case, this work examines female migration from a comparative and integrative perspective. The analysis proceeds at multiple levels of analysis: (1) the state (macro); (2) individuals (micro); and (3) society (meso) in both migrant-sending and receiving countries. How have foreign direct investment and state policies affected women’s labor force participation? How has society legitimized or illegitimized women’s labor migration within and across national borders? How do individual women make their decisions to emigrate? Based on fieldwork in 10 countries, the study demonstrates the complex causation of international female migration in Asia.

Working Paper #49»

Redefining the Boundaries of Belonging: Thoughts on Transnational Religious and Political Life (Working Paper #48)

Peggy Levitt, Wellesley College

Abstract: Many aspects of religious life have long been global. Contemporary migrants extend and deepen these cross-border ties by transnationalizing everyday religious practice. Instead of severing their connections to their homelands, increasing numbers of migrants remain strongly connected to their countries of origin at the same time as they become integrated into the countries that receive them. While some “keep feet in two worlds” by earning their livelihoods or supporting political candidates across borders, other migrants do so by belonging to transnational religious organizations and movements, therefore expanding already global religious institutions and allowing them to belong in two places. Based on a study of transnational migration to six immigrant neighborhoods in the Boston metropolitan area, this presentation will examine how transnational religious membership intersects with other forms of transnational belonging. In what ways does migrant incorporation into host countries or migrants’ impact on their countries of origin change when they remain connected through churches rather than political groups?

Working Paper #48»

The “Brain Gain” Hypothesis: Third-World Elites in Industrialized Countries and Socioeconomic Development in their Home Country (Working Paper #47)

Uwe Hunger, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and University of Muenster – Germany

Introduction: The basic idea of the “brain gain” hypothesis is, that intellectual and technical elites from the Third World who emigrated to an industrialized country represent a potential resource for the socioeconomic development of their home country. To date, development and migration theories state that the emigration of elites from developing countries has almost exclusively negative impacts on the Third World. This loss of important intellectual and technical resources is labeled with the catchword “brain drain”. By modernization theory as well as by dependence theory this “brain drain” is considered to be one of the most important causes of the under-development in the Third World. The “brain gain” hypothesis expands this perspective by predicting long-term positive effects in case of a return or network building processes of the emigrated Third World elites. In addition, the new hypothesis attempts to show how such a resource loss (”brain drain”) can be converted into a long-term resource profit (”brain gain”) for the developing country. Thus, “brain drain” is not seen as the (dead) end of a negative development that intensifies the economic and social crises of developing countries. Instead, it is considered a temporary stage within a long-term process with the possibility of a final resource profit for the developing country.

Working Paper #47»

“Them” or “Us”? Assessing Responsibility for Undocumented Migration from Mexico (Working Paper #46)

Fred Krissman, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Abstract: Empirical studies, theoretical models, and public policies concerning undocumented migration have placed too much emphasis on the “supply-side”. This approach – simultaneously self-serving and self-defeating – emphasizes socioeconomic conditions within Third World countries and immigration enforcement by advanced industrialized nations. Conducting fieldwork in both rural Mexico and the United States, I found that the personnel practices and recruitment activities within three of America’s billion dollar crop industries create and perpetuate unauthorized migrant flows. My study of these rural labor markets contradicts several critical supply-side assumptions, especially pertaining to the origins and composition of international migrant networks. Supply-siders view these networks as systems of mutual aid amongst new immigrants. I found that the networks are also used by employers to maintain access to sources of low cost labor. I conclude that the involvement of an increasing number of US corporations in the development of migrant networks from Mexico shifts responsibility for undocumented migration from “them” to us”.

Working Paper #46»

Ethnic-Priority Immigration in Israel and Germany: Resilience Versus Demise (Working Paper #45)

Christian Joppke, European University Institute, Florence

Zeev Roshenhek, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Abstract: After World War II, Israel and Germany adopted curiously similar policies of ethnic- priority immigration, accepting as immigrants only putative co-ethnics. The first objective of this article is to provide analytical descriptions of an understudied type of immigration, which is entirely a political artefact and also offers a window into the constitution and contestation of the boundaries of the national community. The second objective is to account for the main variation between the two cases, the resilience of Jewish immigration in Israel, and the demise of ethnic-German immigration in Germany. The very fact of divergent outcomes casts doubt on a “primordialist” account of ethnic-priority immigration, which sees the latter as emanating—in a direct and unproblematic way–from an “ethnic” (as against “civic”) definition of nationhood. We point instead to the possibility of “liberal” and “restrictive” contention surrounding ethnic-priority immigration, and argue that for historical and geopolitical reasons the political space for such contention has been more constricted in Israel than in Germany.

Working Paper #45»

Political Economy, Sectoral Shocks, and Border Enforcement (Working Paper #44)

Gordon H. Hanson, University of California, San Diego & NEBR

Antonio Spilimbergo, International Monetary Fund

Abstract: In this paper, we examine the correlation between sectoral shocks and border enforcement in the United States. Enforcement of national borders is the main policy instrument the U.S. government uses to combat illegal immigration. We see whether border enforcement falls following positive shocks to sectors that are intensive in the use of undocumented labor, as would be consistent with political economy models of illegal immigration. The main finding is that border enforcement is negatively correlated with lagged relative price changes in the apparel, fruits and vegetables, and livestock industries and with housing starts in the western United States. This suggests that authorities relax border enforcement when demand for undocumented labor is high.

Working Paper #44»

Migration Merchants: Human Smuggling form Ecuador and China (Working Paper #43)

David Kyle, University of California, Davis

Zai Liang, Queens College – CUNY

Abstract: Human smuggling is a phenomenon that further blurs the already fuzzy boundaries between economic migrant and refugee, legal and illegal immigrant. Many state policy-makers and NGOs are concerned that if they admit immigrants or refugees who use human smugglers, this will encourage smugglers to further break immigration laws. This paper questions the assumption that illegal migrants are like any other illegal commodity crossing state borders. Kyle argues that most migrant smugglers are social bandits who may be considered unsavory and even dangerous by their home societies, but not as “criminals.” Even states that are “victims” of human smugglers do not uniformly paint them as criminal and evil. In contrast to common thieves and smugglers, there is a highly politicized historical dimension to both the motivations of social bandits and to those who see them as either criminals (i.e., transnational organized crime) or “freedom fighters.” Although migration research has a significant role to play in the understanding of transnational social banditry, current migration theory does not sufficiently explain the sharp rise in human smuggling around the world, especially in terms of how it conceptualizes “demand.” To illustrate these points, special attention will be given to emigration from Ecuador to the United States and Spain, including the organization of illicit “migrant export schemes.”

Working Paper #43»

Global Products, Embedded Contexts: The Interpretation of Consumption Practices Among Palestinian Migrants in Amman (Working Paper #42)

E. Anne Beal, University of Chicago

Abstract: Amid the frenzied consumption of villas, clothing, technology, and services characteristic of up-scale living in Amman, the most conspicuous of the conspicuous consumers are popularly identified as wealthy Palestinians who entered Jordan in the aftermath of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. This presentation will focus on these “returnees” to Jordan – some of whom had never lived in Jordan prior to the invasion – and more specifically, the relationships among their consumption practices, conflicting notions of taste among Amman’s elites, and the emergence of a “Gulfie” Palestinian identity. Despite the global aspects of elite Palestinian returnee consumption, a convincing interpretation of its sociocultural importance must make reference to factors embedded in social, political, and economic contexts unique to the Jordanian experience.

Working Paper #42»

Immigration, Economic Insecurity, and the “Ambivalent” American Public (Working Paper #41)

Alan Kessler, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and University of Texas – Austin

Abstract: Are public attitudes toward immigration policy in the United States driven by economic or non-economic concerns? Though systematic analyses are few, a burgeoning literature suggests that cultural norms and enduring values, rather than calculations of self-interest, determine immigration policy preferences. This paper challenges the contention that economic motivations play little or no role in the formation of immigration policy preferences. Drawing on recent work in political economy, I argue that individual preferences over immigration policy reflect economic and non-economic concerns – both broadly rooted in considerations of individual self-interest. While affective orientations toward ethnic groups and prejudice clearly underlie public attitudes toward immigration policy, analysts err in discounting an economic interpretation of immigration policy preferences. In fact, multivariate analysis of 1992 through 2000 National Election Study surveys reveals a robust link between an individual’s position in the labor market and immigration policy. Respondents at the lower end of the nation’s occupational and/or educational distribution are more likely to oppose increased immigration, as the Heckscher-Ohlin model of international trade implies.

Working Paper #41»