November 2014

IZA DP No. 8626: Trends in the Returns to Social Assimilation: Earnings Premiums among U.S. Immigrants that Marry Natives

published in: The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2015, 662 (1), 207-222

Previous studies show that immigrants married to natives earn higher wages than immigrants married to other immigrants. Using data from the 1980-2000 U.S. censuses and the 2005-2010 American Community Surveys, we show that these wage premiums have increased over time. Our evidence suggests that the trends cannot be explained by changes in the attributes of immigrants that tend to marry natives but are instead most likely a result of increasing returns to the characteristics of immigrants married to natives. Because immigrants married to natives tend to have more schooling, part of the increasing premium can be explained by increases in the returns to a college education. However, we find increasing intermarriage premiums even when allowing the returns to schooling as well as English-speaking ability to vary over time. We believe these patterns are driven by changes in technology and globalization which have made communication and management skills more valuable in the U.S. labor market.