Christopher L. Smith
Abstract: The employment-to-population rate of high-school aged youth has fallen by about 20 percentage points since the late 1980s. The human capital implications of this decline depend on the reasons behind it. In this paper, I demonstrate that growth in the number of less-educated immigrants may have considerably reduced youth employment rates. This finding stands in contrast to previous research that generally identifies, at most, a modest negative relationship across states or cities between immigration levels and adult labor market outcomes. At least two factors are at work: there is greater overlap between the jobs that youth and less-educated adult immigrants traditionally do, and youth labor supply is more responsive to immigration-induced changes in their wage. Despite a slight increase in schooling rates in response to immigration, I find little evidence that reduced employment rates are associated with higher earnings ten years later in life. This raises the possibility that an immigration-induced reduction in youth employment, on net, hinders youths' human capital accumulation.
Keywords: Youth employment, immigrationFull paper (418 KB PDF) | Full paper (Screen Reader Version)