Immigrant wage differentials and the role of self-employment in Australia

Kidd, Michael P. (1993) Immigrant wage differentials and the role of self-employment in Australia. Australian Economic Papers, 32(60), pp. 92-115.

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Immigration has played an important role in the historical development of Australia. Thus, it is no surprise that a large body of empirical work has developed, which focuses upon how migrants fare in the land of opportunity. Much of the literature is comparatively recent, i.e. the last ten years or so, encouraged by the advent of public availability of Australian crosssection micro data. Several different aspects of migrant welfare have been addressed, with major emphasis being placed upon earnings and unemployment experience. For recent examples see Haig (1980), Stromback (1984), Chiswick and Miller (1985), Tran-Nam and Nevile (1988) and Beggs and Chapman (1988). The present paper contributes to the literature by providing additional empirical evidence on the native/migrant earnings differential. The data utilised are from the rather neglected Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABS Special Supplementary Survey No.4. 1982, otherwise known as the Family Survey. The paper also examines the importance of distinguishing between the wage and salary sector and the self-employment sector when discussing native/migrant differentials. Separate earnings equations for the two labour market groups are estimated and the native/migrant earnings differential is broken down by employment status. This is a novel application in the Australian context and provides some insight into the earnings of the selfemployed, a group that despite its size (around 20 per cent of the labour force) is frequently ignored by economic research. Most previous empirical research fails to examine the effect of employment status on earnings. Stromback (1984) includes a dummy variable representing self-employment status in an earnings equation estimated over a pooled sample of paid and self-employed workers. The variable is found to be highly significant, which leads Stromback to question the efficacy of including the self-employed in the estimation sample. The suggestion is that part of self-employed earnings represent a return to non-human capital investment, i.e. investments in machinery, buildings etc, the structural determinants of earnings differ significantly from those for paid employees. Tran-Nam and Nevile (1988) deal with differences between paid employees and the selfemployed by deleting the latter from their sample. However, deleting the self-employed from the estimation sample may lead to bias in the OLS estimation method (see Heckman 1979). The desirable properties of OLS are dependent upon estimation on a random sample. Thus, the 'Ran-Nam and Nevile results are likely to suffer from bias unless individuals are randomly allocated between self-employment and paid employment. The current analysis extends Tran-Nam and Nevile (1988) by explicitly treating the choice of paid employment versus self-employment as being endogenously determined. This allows an explicit test for the appropriateness of deleting self-employed workers from the sample. Earnings equations that are corrected for sample selection are estimated for both natives and migrants in the paid employee sector. The Heckman (1979) two-step estimator is employed. The paper is divided into five major sections. The next section presents the econometric model incorporating the specification of the earnings generating process together with an explicit model determining an individual's employment status. In Section 111 the data are described. Section IV draws together the main econometric results of the paper. First, the probit estimates of the labour market status equation are documented. This is followed by presentation and discussion of the Heckman two-stage estimates of the earnings specification for both native and migrant Australians. Separate earnings equations are estimated for paid employees and the self-employed. Section V documents estimates of the nativelmigrant earnings differential for both categories of employees. To aid comparison with earlier work, the Oaxaca decomposition of the earnings differential for paid-employees is carried out for both the simple OLS regression results as well as the parameter estimates corrected for sample selection effects. These differentials are interpreted and compared with previous Australian findings. A short section concludes the paper.

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ID Code: 59224
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8454.1993.tb00133.x
ISSN: 1467-8454 (online) 0004-900X (print)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Economics & Finance
Deposited On: 21 Apr 2013 22:57
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2013 22:57

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