Education and Earnings Trajectories Across Generations


Yao Lu
Associate Professor of Sociology
Neeraj Kaushal
Professor of Social Work


Canada and the United States are two of the largest immigrant destinations in the world. For decades, the two countries have received large inflows of immigrants from many common sending nations while pursuing markedly different policies regarding the admission and integration of immigrants. This project examines education and earnings trajectories of immigrants and their descendants in both countries, in light of these notable regulatory differences marking labor market and social policies. The project employs nationally representative cross-sectional and longitudinal data to examine: (1) Selection patterns of recent immigrants from the same sending countries with respect to education, host-country language proficiency, and entry-level earnings; (2) Changes in these selection patterns since 1990 and the economic well-being of immigrants over time; and (3) Educational attainment and earnings of second-generation immigrants compared to their parents' generation as well as comparison groups in their destination country. To that end, the project takes advantage of sophisticated and comparable census data for the US and Canada. The incorporation of a longitudinal component advances social science by adjusting for potential selectivity bias typically associated with cross-sectional analyses.

This research will improve our understanding of how the selection and labor market incorporation of immigrants affects social mobility patterns in the world?s leading immigrant destination countries, with implications for other countries experiencing large-scale immigration. Findings may be of interest to business and community leaders, as well as the general public. Findings may also assist policy makers as they design policies to promote economic development in receiving societies. The project also provides training opportunities for students.