Urban Immigrant Diversity and Inclusive Institutions

Tom Kemeny, Abigail Cooke
2017 Economic Geography  
Recent studies identify a robust positive correlation between the productivity of urban workers and the presence of a diverse range of immigrants in their midst. Seeking to better understand this relationship, this paper tests the hypothesis that the rewards from immigrant diversity will be higher in metropolitan areas that feature more "inclusive" social and economic institutions. Institutions ought to matter because they regulate transaction costs, which in principle determine whether or not
more » ... ine whether or not diversity offers advantages or disadvantages. We exploit longitudinal linked employer-employee data for the U.S. to test this idea, and triangulate across two measures that differently capture the inclusiveness of urban institutions. Findings offer support for the hypothesis. In cities with low levels of inclusive institutions, the benefits of diversity are modest and in some cases nonexistent; in cities with high levels of inclusive institutions, the benefits of immigrant diversity are positive, significant, and substantial. We also find that weakly inclusive institutions hurt natives considerably more than foreign-born workers. These results confirm the economic significance of immigrant diversity, while suggesting the importance of local social and economic institutions. Disclaimer: This work was produced while the authors were Special Sworn Status researchers in a Federal Statistical Research Data Center. Any opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Census Bureau. All results have been reviewed to ensure that no confidential information is disclosed.
doi:10.1080/00130095.2017.1300056 fatcat:4ub6c2avujevlczpint6zwgf6m