A Spatial Analysis of Wage Inequality among Foreign-Born Workers in the United States

Chuncui Fan, University of California, Los Angeles

A profuse literature on earnings inequality in the U.S. focuses on the wage gap between workers of different nativity, gender, race and ethnicity, and education backgrounds. However, they tend to treat the national labor market as a whole and ignore the geographical variation in wage inequality, especially that across the U.S. metropolitan areas. Moreover, less attention is given to wage variations among the foreign-born workers. Recognizing the heterogeneous nature of immigrant skills, this paper conducts a systematic study on the spatial and temporal patterns of inequality among immigrant workers between 1980 and 2009. We emphasize on the role of local labor market conditions in shaping immigrant wage inequality. Multilevel modeling is used to evaluate the effects of driving forces of wage inequality at both individual and labor market levels. Finally, we control for spatial autocorrelation to account for the part of wage differentials unexplained in a regular multilevel analysis.

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Presented in Session 14: Ethnic Enclaves, New Destinations and Migrant Economic Outcomes