Living The American Dream? Wage Outcomes Of Albanian Immigrants In The United States

Type Working Paper
Title Living The American Dream? Wage Outcomes Of Albanian Immigrants In The United States
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Immigrants’ human capital and human capital potential is not fully transferrable into wage levels
in the host county. Albania is a recent case in point that offers an opportunity for study. Since the
collapse of the totalitarian regime in 1990, Albania has undergone drastic demographic changes,
fueled by unprecedented levels of emigration and disproportionately large shares of those who
are leaving are highly skilled individuals. Albania’s brain drain has received a large amount of
research attention over the years, but little is known about the possible brain gain for the host
country, or brain waste resulting from the over education of the immigrant labor force. This
paper investigates the issue of human capital transferability by examining the labor market
experience of this relatively new, little known immigrant group in the United States. The
examination pays particular attention to three issues: (1) the success of Albanians relative to
Italian immigrants; (2) the role of human capital; and (3) performance differences between
emigrants leaving as refugees during the communist era, and those emigrating during the postcommunist
era. The empirical analysis uses pooled data from the 2000 US Census 5% sample,
and the 2001-2007 American Community Survey (ACS) 3% sample, accessed from the
Integrated Public Use Micro data Series (IPUMS-USA). Findings of this research suggest that
human capital acquired at home has a positive impact on wages, but the level of skill
transferability is low for Albanians and human capital acquired in the US has a slightly larger
pay-off for Albanian immigrants than for Italian immigrants. Both Italians and Albanians
experience returns to assimilation at a decreasing rate. Albanian immigrants earn less than Italian
immigrants do, and the gender wage gap among Albanian immigrants is smaller than among
Italian immigrants.

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