Occupational Licensing and Immigrants

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This study examines the incidence and impact of occupational licensing on immigrants using two sources of data: the Current Population Survey and the Survey of Income and Program Participation. We find that immigrants are significantly less likely to have a license than similar natives and that this gap is largest for men, workers in the highest education level, and nonnaturalized immigrants. The licensing rate increases with years since migration and shows large variation by immigrants’ region of origin. A lack of English proficiency reduces the probability that an immigrant has a license. The wage premium from having a license is much larger for immigrants than natives, though this may in part reflect licensing status proxying for English-language ability.

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