Determinants of Immigrant Selectivity and Skills

Madeline Zavodny
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Working Paper 2000-12a
May 2001

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Whether immigrants are positively or negatively self-selected is much disputed. Whereas most previous studies have addressed this question by comparing the wages of immigrants to those of U.S. natives, this analysis uses occupation to examine the skill level of immigrants. Data on the occupational distribution of individuals granted legal permanent residence in 1995 indicate that the proportion of immigrants in skilled occupations is related to the corresponding proportion in source countries but not necessarily to the return to skill and other economic factors in the country of origin.

JEL classification: F22, J61

Key words: immigration, selection, occupation

The author thanks Dan Waggoner for helpful comments. The views expressed here are the author’s and not necessarily those of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta or the Federal Reserve System. Any remaining errors are the author’s responsibility.

Please address questions regarding content to Madeline Zavodny, Research Department, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, 104 Marietta Street, N.W., Atlanta Georgia 30303-2713, 404-498-8977, 404-498-8058 (fax),