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Italy: No country for highly educated immigrant workers

d'Agostino, Giorgio and Pieroni, Luca and Scarlato, Margherita (2022): Italy: No country for highly educated immigrant workers.

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Abstract

This paper estimates the returns of education on the first generation of immigrants in Italy and measures the education pay gap between immigrants and natives. The analysis, drawn on two comparable cross-sectional surveys conducted by the Italian Institute of Statistics in 2009, shows that an immigrant with a tertiary education degree has a 20% increase in hourly wage compared to immigrant workers with a postsecondary education degree. The absence of a legal recognition of the education degree does not produce any return to education for the immigrants. Relevant differences in educational returns are found between immigrants and natives, with an education wage gap of approximately 61%. These results shed new light on the two channels that may contribute to the wage gap between highly educated immigrants and natives in Italy. The first channel moves behind the heterogeneity of highly educated immigrants with respect to their education quality and comparability and on relevant differences in the formal process of recognition of the education degree. The second channel is linked to the job mismatch of the immigrant workforce.

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