The Effect of Immigrant Discrimination on Wages in the United States

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Gehres, Sarah
Truong, Quynh
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Scholarship Sewanee 2024 , University of the South , Economics , Immigration , Discrimination , Wages , Immigrant Policy , Workplace discrimination
In the United States, workplace discrimination on the basis of immigrant status is reflected in multiple ways. Although abundant research has been conducted on these forms of discrimination, this study seeks to empirically test the effect of workplace discrimination on the earnings of immigrant employees, which is important to highlight, mitigate, and ultimately reduce the barriers to fair workplace practices faced by immigrants. We approach the problem from the perspective of wage discrepancies. Our research design focuses on cases of employees with similar education levels and occupations and relies on pooled-cross section data from the American Community Surveys (ACS) and U.S. Census data over the years 1980 to 2020, which we analyze by comparing the wages of immigrants to non-immigrants in the same fields. Results show that immigrant discrimination creates wage disparities by lowering the wages of immigrant workers regardless of differences in education level, English proficiency, marital status, sex, and other relevant factors. These results have broader implications of informing policies aimed at creating equitable and inclusive work environments for immigrants.