International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States (Working Paper #59)

Daniel Chiquiar, University of California – San Diego

Gordon H. Hanson, University of California-San Diego and National Bureau of Economic Research

Abstract: In this paper, we use data from the Mexico and U.S. population censuses to examine who migrates from Mexico to the United States and how the skills and economic performance of these individuals compare to those who remain in Mexico. We test Borjas’ negative-selection hypothesis that in poor countries the individuals with the strongest incentive to migrate to rich countries are those with relatively low skill levels. We find that 1) Mexican immigrants, while much less educated than U.S. natives, are on average more educated than residents of Mexico, and 2) were Mexican immigrants in the United States to be paid according to current skill prices in Mexico they would tend to occupy the middle and upper portions of Mexico’s wage distribution. These results are inconsistent with the negative-selection hypothesis and suggest, instead, that in terms of observable skills there is intermediate or positive selection of immigrants from Mexico. The results also suggest that migration abroad may raise wage inequality in Mexico.

Working Paper #59»

Rethinking the ‘Local’ and ‘Transnational’: Cross- Border Politics and Hometown Networks in an Immigrant Union (Working Paper #58)

David FitzGerald, University of California – Los Angeles

Abstract: The controversial notion of ‘transnationalism’ has generated new insights into international migrants’ ongoing ties with their communities of origin that are unexplained by crude versions of the assimilation paradigm. However, the problematic conceptualization of ‘transnationalism’ and its vague usage in empirical studies needlessly inhibit the transnational perspective’s utility. Understanding the political and economic incorporation of migrants in both their communities of origin and destination is facilitated by disaggregating the types of political borders, types of nationalism, and levels of identification that have been conflated in the framework of ‘transnationalism’. I demonstrate the analytic value of these distinctions by using them to interpret evidence from a six-month ethnographic case study of an immigrant labor union in Southern California. A theoretically coherent typology applicable to both the case study and other migration settings provides a framework for explaining how institutions incorporate migrants into U.S. and local politics while simultaneously promoting cross-border ties. I argue labor migrants engage in cross-border activities as a defensive reaction against the discrimination to which they are subjected qua ‘foreigners’ and because cross-border networks are a strategic resource for attaining status and material benefits both ‘here’ and ‘there’.

Working Paper #58»

Spain as a Recent Country of Immigration: How Immigration Became a Symbolic, Political, and Cultural Problem in the “New Spain” (Working Paper #57)

Belén Agrela, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and University of Granada – Spain

Abstract: This paper explores how immigrants have caused a restructuring of identities in the “new” Spain, through a juxtaposition with those who have traditionally been defined as “cultural others.” To show how processes of categorization are used as a rhetoric of exclusion, Agrela analyzes the way in which public policies are constructing immigration as a symbolic, political, and cultural problem that has recently become one of the most salient issues on Spain’s political agenda at the local, regional, and national levels. The paper examines how formal and informal categories of immigrants are established by public policies and how immigrants have come to be defined as a “public problem.”

Working Paper #57»

Temporary Foreign Workers Pogrammes: Policies, Adverse Consequences, and the Need to Make Them Work (Working Paper #56)

Martin Ruhs, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and University of Cambridge – UK

Abstract: This paper comparatively discusses the policies and adverse consequences of six major temporary foreign worker programmes (TFWPs) in five different countries (Germany, Kuwait, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States). I find that TFWPs have been quite different in design, but rather similar in their adverse consequences. The latter include: (i) the emergence of “immigrant sectors” in the host economy; (ii) the vulnerability of migrant workers toward various forms of exploitation in recruitment and employment; (iii) the tendency of TFWPs to become longer in duration and bigger in size than initially envisaged; (iv) native workers’ opposition against the introduction or expansion of a TFWP; and (v) the emergence of illegal foreign workers who, together with native employers, circumvent the programme. Given that most countries lack viable alternative to TFWPs, I argue that there is an urgent need to develop new types of TFWPs that avoid and learn from the past policy mistakes identified in this paper. The paper concludes with a proposal of seven general policy principles for making TFWPs work.

Working Paper #56»

The Dawn of a New Generation: The Historical Evolution of Inter-Generational Conflict and Cooperation in Korean American Organizational Politics (Working Paper #55)

Angie Y. Chung, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies

Abstract: Drawing on these previous works and my own research data, the purpose of this article is to trace the historical evolution of Korean American organizations in Los Angeles within the context of ethnic power structures and to explore the various dimensions of inter-organizational conflict and cooperation as they have affected community politics in the post-1992 Los Angeles Riots era. While I argue that ethnic political structures in Koreatown have been formatively shaped by a variety of cultural, structural, and historical forces, my work emphasizes the central presence of what I call the traditional “ethnic elite”2 in influencing community discourse and determining the lines of conflict and cooperation in ethnic politics. In this study, “ethnic elite” refers to individuals and groups that occupy a higher status within the political infrastructures of an ethnic community because of their greater access to the human, financial, and/or social capital resources3 of that community.

Working Paper #55»

Moving Beyond the Policy of No Policy: Emigration from Mexico and Central America (Working Paper #54)

Marc Rosenblum, University of New Orleans

Abstract: Immediately following the 2000-1 inaugurations of Presidents Vicente Fox and George W. Bush, Mexico and the United States entered into intense negotiations aimed at a bilateral guestworker agreement on migration. Although the terror attacks of September, 2001 put these negotiations on hold, the progress which had been made—and the extent to which Mexico set the bilateral agenda—highlight the transnational character of U.S. immigration policy-making. But what do sending-states want when it comes to U.S. immigration policy, and when and how can they influence the process? This paper draws on 90 elite interviews conducted with Mexican, Central American, and Caribbean Basin policy-makers to answer these questions, and discusses Mexico’s increasing engagement in U.S. immigration policy-making since the 1980s.

Working Paper #54»

Citizenship Solidarity and Rights Individualism: On the Decline of National Citizenship in the U.S., Germany, and Israel (Working Paper #53)

David Abraham, University of Miami

Abstract: This is paper analyzes changes in the nature of citizenship in the United States, Germany, and Israel over the past three decades. Abraham argues that the gap between “citizen” and “resident alien” has been shrinking. Overall, there has been a decline in the content of citizenship and easier access to it. Despite some recent hostility toward aliens in many countries, the tendency over the longer term has been to grant aliens greater rights. In part, this is because courts have come to focus on equal protection rights for individuals. However, the development also points to a reduction in solidarity within these societies because of neo-liberalism and the weakening of citizenship as a political and socio-economic category. The decline of the Keynesian welfare state, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the rise of international human rights discourses have also played a role. The result in Germany and the United States has been increased recognition of immigrant rights and non-discrimination toward immigrant residents, but at the expense of redistribution. The presentation also examines whether neo-liberal developments in Israeli law and society might have a similar impact.

Working Paper #53»

States and Their Expatriates: Explaining the Development of Tunisian and Moroccan Emigration- Related Institutions (Working Paper #52)

Laurie A. Brand, University of Southern California

Abstract: Although immigration obviously requires prior emigration, very little work in migration studies examines states of origin. In addition, most research that is concerned with a labor-exporting country generally examines either social networks or the impact of remittances and worker absence on families or home communities. Brand argues that just as immigration policy should be understood as more than simply the nature of border controls and visas, emigration policy should also be analyzed from a broad perspective. This includes political, economic, and cultural policies and practices of the home state that deliberately target some aspect of its expatriates’ lives. To better understand the bases of emigration policy, Brand explores the establishment and development of several state institutions in Morocco (a separate ministry for Moroccans abroad and the Foundation Hassan II) and Tunisia (I’Office des Tunisiens a I’Etranger). She examines various traditional explanations for the formation of immigration policy in receiving states (the economy, security, changing global norms) in order to determine their relevance to the emigration policies of migrant-sending countries.

Working Paper #52»

Charting a Civic Border: Immigration and Naturalization in San Diego (Working Paper #51)

Robert H. McLaughlin, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies and University of Chicago

Abstract: A civic border–comprised of government institutions, the laws that govern them and their charge to regulate immigration, and the partial and incomplete circulation of legal knowledge about immigration determines patterns of lawful immigration and naturalization among immigrants in the United States. The process of naturalization, the voluntary passage from lawful permanent residence to citizenship, sheds light on the structure of the Untied States as polity and as a nation, and reveals its terms of membership. Drawing on ethnographic and documentary research in San Diego, California, this paper argues that immigration and naturalization involve not merely border crossings over physical spaces, but also the traversing of a complex and significant civic border that delineates the citizenry of the United States.

Working Paper #51»

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

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»