Poster Paper: Gender and Immigration: The Labor Market Performance of African Women in the United States

Thursday, November 7, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Plaza Exhibits (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Ene Ikpebe, American University and Michael Seeborg, Illinois Wesleyan University

The purpose of our research is to explore the labor market experience of African women in the United States. We are particularly interested in the following questions: how have African women performed in terms of labor market assimilation in the US? When we compare them to native black or white American women, are there wage gaps? What human capital characteristics help or hurt their assimilation process?

There are several reasons to expect a different labor market experience for African women than for their native-born counterparts. It has been found concerning a number of other immigrant groups in the US that human capital acquired in the home countries is less valuable than that acquired in the US. On one hand, if most African women immigrate as children with their families, then they are likely to possess the more valuable kinds of human capital. But on the other hand, if they move later in life, then we expect to see a less favorable experience in the US. This research therefore speaks to skill transferability questions.

We believe these are interesting questions because the African-born population has grown in the last few decades to occupy a significant proportion of immigrants in the US. There now exists a small body of labor economics research which directly focuses on African immigrants in the United States. Our paper combines this research with the ever growing research on gender dynamics in the labor market.

The analysis uses annual data from the American Community Survey and multiple regression techniques to compare the performance of our groups of interest, in terms of wages and salaries, accounting for human capital differences.