migration and the labor force 3027

ties, ease the economic assimilation of new immi
grants providing both economic and social sup
port, facilitating investment in human capital,
and promoting immigrant entrepreneurial activ
ities. Indeed, from a survey of various immigrant
groups, an Australian Bureau of Immigration
Research report by Morrissey et al. (1991)
concluded that family and informal networks
provide the most important and frequently uti
lized services for immigrants.


Paralleling the earnings and employment find
ings for men, several studies have found the
decision of immigrant women to work and their
earnings to be positively associated with years
since migration, perhaps reflecting the learning
of skills relevant to the host countrys labor
market. Yet, the labor force behavior of immi
grant women differs from that of immigrant
men and there are distinct differences in
womens labor force behavior among immigrant
groups. Monica Boyds research reveals consid
erable stratification among groups of Canadian
immigrant women in the extent to which they
have lower occupational statuses than natives.
Underlying the differences in labor force
behavior between immigrant men and women
may be the same factors that contribute to
differences in labor force behavior between
native men and women. Analyses of immigrant
women find that, like native women, their labor
force participation is affected by children and by
personal characteristics that affect labor market
productivity such as level of schooling. Yet con
trolling for variables traditionally included
in female labor force models, and controlling
for variables that measure skill transferability
such as host country language proficiency and
years since immigration typically included
in immigrant men models, large differences
exist across immigrant groups in female labor
force behavior. To understand these persistent
differences, researchers are pursuing a family
perspective. There has also been a growing con
sensus that mens labor market outcomes, typi
cally the focus of earlier economic studies,
cannot be fully understood without also consid
ering the activities of their wives.
The family investment model, developed
by Canadian, Australian, and US researchers,
posits that family members can increase the
future labor income of the family either directly
by pursuing activities that increase their own
skill levels, or indirectly by engaging in activities
that finance or support the human capital
investment activities of other family members.
The expected return to a husbands or wifes
investment in US specific human capital affects
the spouses decision about whether to work,
how much to work, the timing of work deci
sions, and the kind of work that is pursued.
Immigrant families may also temporarily post
pone fertility to facilitate an initial period of
heavy human capital investment.
Finally, a nascent body of research focuses on
the role that immigrant women play within the
household concerning decisions about work and
how work affects the relationship between wives
and husbands. This research finds that house
holds become less patriarchal and more egalitar
ian as women gain access to social and economic
resources previously beyond their reach.


Several similarities unite international and
domestic migration analyses of earnings and
employment. In both arenas, the role of social
networks is prominent. In both, a key variable is
age. The younger migrants are, the longer the
payoff time from migration. Opportunity costs
also increase with age; as one works in a parti
cular locality and firm, it becomes increasingly
difficult to transfer the accumulated work
Also common to studies of the labor force and
internal or international migration is the pro
blem that not all those who migrate stay in their
new destination. Who leaves will affect the mea
surement of migrant earnings and employment
profiles and underscores the importance of
following the same individuals over time.
Another oft noted phenomenon in both
internal and international migration is that once
a group of persons begins to migrate to a parti
cular area, the process persists. A shared unan
swered question is: why does migration start
when it does? What scholars sometimes suggest