Welcome to the Migration seminar

Immigrants’ family patterns and household economic assimilation: A comparative study of the U.S. and Sweden


Debora Pricila Birgier, Postdoctoral fellow, Unit for Economic History, University of Gothenburg, Centre for Economic Demography, Lund University


Migration literature focuses on individual immigrants' economic assimilation, yet theories of family migration claim that the migration decision-making process and labor supply after migration are shaped by family status. The present study includes this latter perspective by examining migrants’ economic assimilation at the family level in Sweden and the U.S. controlling for family type. Two data sources were used: the 2012-2014 American Community Survey and the 2014 Swedish Register. Using Differences-in-Differences estimates, family income gaps between migrants and natives are decomposed into the effect of differences in family characteristics and country of destination.

The results suggest that family assimilation in both countries is shaped mainly by women migrants' labor supply and that immigrant families assimilate better in the U.S. than their counterparts in Sweden. In addition, being married to a native plays a vital role in the assimilation of immigrant families, more so in Sweden than in the U.S.

In terms of policies, my findings stress the importance of two mechanisms. On the one hand, Swedish work-family social and welfare policies increase the share of dual-earner families, though the share of dual-earner families among immigrants remains low relative to native families, exacerbating the disadvantage that immigrant families suffer from. On the other hand, the lower levels of earnings and income inequalities in Sweden compared to those in the U.S. enable immigrant families in Sweden to have a better economic standing than they would have had they lived in the U.S.


Meeting ID: 624 8362 3999
Passcode: 188299