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Essays on immigrant assimilation Torres, Javier


This dissertation examines immigrants (to Canada) assimilation problems from a perspective of imperfect human capital transferability. Chapter 2 discusses how much of the immigrant wage gap can be explained by the undervaluation of foreign human capital (education and work experience). The identification of the human capital source (using information available in the 2006 Canadian census) can explain up to 70% of the native-immigrant wage gap. The foreign-born dummy coefficient goes from around -11% to close to -3%. Education acquired in Asia tends to be valued less than education from South America, Africa and East Europe; which in turn is less valued than education from Oceania, the U.S. and the rest of continental Europe. Studying in the UK consistently appears more beneficial than studying in Canada. When incorporating country of origin fixed effects, the different specifications visibly reduce the heterogeneity of country coefficients. The reduction is sizeable for Pakistan, India, China and the Philippines; though their coefficients remain negative. A smaller reduction for Europe, South-East Asia, Hong Kong and the US drives their coefficients close to zero. The UK country of origin dummy has the only persistently positive coefficient. Chapter 3 describes the occupational assimilation process of 2000-2001 immigrants in their first four years. The results show that those with high levels of education experience a more significant decline in their first occupation. Education, though, has a positive and significant effect on occupational improvement; which reduces the size and significance of the negative effect of education on the second occupational gap. It, however, does not change its sign. The same pattern is observed when analyzing occupational gaps through time. Chapter 4 focuses on immigrants' English proficiency improvement. Overall, immigrants show relatively small improvements in language proficiency in the first four years in Canada. Still, those arriving under the family immigrant category with an intermediate or advanced level are less likely to improve and more likely to decrease their English proficiency. Human capital variables (age and education) are also consistently relevant for English proficiency improvement.

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