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CEP discussion paper

On the Relative Gains to Immigration: A Comparison of the Labour Market Position of Indians in the USA, the UK and India


While most studies of the decision to immigrate focus on the absolute income differences between countries, we argue that relative change in purchasing power or status, as captured by an individual’s ranking in the wage distribution, may also be important. This will in turn be influenced by differential levels of supply, demand and migration costs across the skill distribution and across countries. Using data on Indian immigrants in the United States and the UK matched to comparable data on individuals who remained in India, we show that the average Indian immigrant will experience a fall in their relative ranking in the wage distribution compared to the position they would have achieved had they remained in the origin country. The fall in relative rankings is larger for immigrants to the UK than to the US, and largest of all for those with intermediate skills.


Jonathan Wadsworth and Augustin de Coulon

February 2008     Paper Number CEPDP0851

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This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Labour markets programme.