The Effect of Naturalization on Wage Growth: A Panel Study of Young Male Immigrants
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Bratsberg, Bernt, James F. Ragan, Jr., and Zaffar M. Nasir
For young male immigrants, naturalization facilitates assimilation into the U.S. labor market. Following naturalization, immigrants gain access to public-sector, white-collar, and union jobs, and wage growth accelerates. These findings are consistent with the proposition that naturalization fosters labor market success of immigrants by removing barriers to employment. Although the faster wage growth of immigrants who naturalize might alternatively be explained by greater human capital investment prior to naturalization, stemming from a long-term commitment to U.S. labor markets, there is no evidence that wage growth accelerates or that the distribution of jobs improves until after citizenship is attained. Finally, the gains from naturalization are greater for immigrants from less-developed countries and persist when we control for unobserved productivity characteristics of workers.