Selectivity and Economic Assimilation of Immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Israel and the U.S.

Yinon Cohen, Tel Aviv University
Yitchak Haberfeld, Tel Aviv University

During the late 1970s and 1980s, Jewish emigrants from the Former Soviet Union (FSU) could choose between Israel and the US as their destination counties. Drawing on US census data (1980 and 1990 PUMS) and Israeli cross-sectional and longitudinal data, we find that immigrants from the FSU in Israel failed to reach earnings convergence with natives. The earnings growth of FSU immigrant in Israel lagged behind that of natives, as well as behind the earnings growth observed among FSU Jewish immigrants in the US between 1980 and 1990. Patterns of self-selection to immigration--on both measured and unmeasured productivity-related traits--are identified as the major reason for the relatively poor performance of FSU immigrants in Israel. Apparently, the more educated and skilled Jewish emigrants from the FSU immigrated to America and other countries, while less educated and less skilled immigrants reached Israel.

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Presented in Session 115: The Economic Adaptation of Immigrants