Immigration and Labor Market Mobility in Israel, 1990 to 2009

Immigration and Labor Market Mobility in Israel, 1990 to 2009

By Sarit Cohen Goldner, Zvi Eckstein and Yoram Weiss

A study of the labor market integration of highly skilled Soviet immigrants to Israel that formulates dynamic models of job search and human capital investment.

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Summary

A study of the labor market integration of highly skilled Soviet immigrants to Israel that formulates dynamic models of job search and human capital investment.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Soviet Jews emigrated in large numbers to Israel. Over the next ten years, Israel absorbed approximately 900,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union, an influx that equaled about twenty percent of the Israeli population. Most of these new immigrants of working age were college-educated and highly skilled. Once in Israel, they were eligible for a generous package of benefits, including housing subsidies, Hebrew language training, and vocational education. This episode provides a natural experiment for testing the consequences of a large immigration inflow of skilled workers. This book provides a detailed analysis of the gradual process of occupational upgrading of immigrants and the associated rise in their wages.

Based on their analysis, the authors conclude that even a very large and unanticipated wave of immigration can be integrated within the local labor market without any significant long-term adverse economic effect on natives. The small effect on wages and employment of natives is explained by the capital inflows into Israel and the gradual entry of immigrants into high-skill jobs as they invest in local human capital. An important contribution of the book to the immigration literature is the formulation and estimation of stochastic dynamic models that combine job search with investment in human capital and the analysis of alternative government policies within this framework.

Hardcover

Out of Print ISBN: 9780262017671 322 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 56 figures, 80 tables

Endorsements

  • This book brings together years of careful and insightful scholarship on one of the largest migration episodes for which good data are available: the migration of Jews from the ex-Soviet Union to Israel. I recommend it to anyone interested in the economic assimilation or impact of immigrants.

    Jennifer Hunt

    Department of Economics, Rutgers University

  • This book provides a comprehensive and rigorous analysis, conducted over a fifteen year period, of the unanticipated large influx of Russian immigrants to Israel that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The authors consider both how these immigrants were assimilated into the labor market and the economy-wide adjustments that ensued. The book is a major contribution that is a must-read for both researchers and policy makers.

    Kenneth Wolpin

    Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Social Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

  • Immigration and Labor Market Mobility in Israel, 1990-2009 constitutes a major contribution to our understanding of the adjustment and impact of immigrants on the destination country. One advantage of this study of Israel is the unique experience of a large (relative to the host economy) exogenous immigration. Another is that it is not on an English-speaking developed economy of overseas settlement, which are the source of so much of the immigration literature. As a result, this book helps put into perspective the research findings on immigration among the English-speaking developed countries.

    Barry Chiswick

    Chair of the Economics Department, George Washington University

  • Immigration and Labor Market Mobility in Israel, 1990 to 2009 is a splendid book on an important topic. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union immigrants from its member countries poured into Israel, increasing its population by 20 percent. The book studies their absorption in the Israeli economy and their impact on local workers, using detailed data sets that have been assembled for this purpose. The topic is fascinating and the analysis exemplary both in depth and breadth.

    Elhanan Helpman

    Galen L. Stone Professor of International Trade, Harvard University