An immigrants’ home country matters when it comes to success

Why Are Some Immigrant Groups More Successful Than Others?

This paper provides some interesting thoughts on immigration and success. The best summary of the paper is below:

A model of selection is constructed that yields seven specific empirical implications, all of which are borne out by data from the American Communities Survey, 2011-2015. The larger the number of immigrants from an origin country, the lower the level of educational attainment, of wages, and of earnings in the US. The larger the population of the origin country, the higher the educational attainment, the higher the wages, and the higher the earnings of those immigrants in the US. A more parsimonious approach expresses predictions in terms of a representation ratio, which is a measure of how under- or over-represented a country is in the US immigrant stock. Countries that are more over-represented are predicted and found to have lower attainment in education, wages and earnings.

A possible reason for these trends is that the immigration process rations slots. Thus, countries with less slots are likely sending the best citizens (or, those that have a higher probability of success) while those with a lower probability of success are not able to immigrate. So, countries with a lot of immigration slots are sending those with a higher probability of success and those with lower probabilities. And countries with less slots are only sending their better citizens. As evidence for this, here’s one more paragraph from the paper:

Algeria, Israel, and Japan, along with over one hundred other countries, are sources of immigrants in the United States. Try the following thought experiment: Rank those three countries’ immigrants, highest to lowest, by educational attainment. The ranking is Algeria, Israel, and Japan. Surprised? Consider an additional fact: Algerians make up .0004 of immigrants, Israelis comprise .003 of our immigrants whereas about 1% of immigrants are from Japan. The largest source country of immigrants is Mexico, accounting for 27% of the immigrant population in the US. Mexican immigrants rank 134th out of 136 in educational attainment, as compared with Algerian immigrants who rank 25th . Yet, average education attainment in Mexico is 8.5 years, whereas in Algeria it is only 7.6 years. The group with the highest educational attainment are those from the former Soviet Union, who make up .001 of all immigrants.

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