Journal article written by 1991 Abe Fellow Wayne Cornelius based on his project “Controlling Illegal Immigration in Industrialized Societies: Japan and the U.S. in Comparative Perspective.” Co-authors include Takeyuki Tsuda and Zulema Valdez.
For the United States, the most commonly used model of immigrant labor market incorporation analyzes earnings largely as a function of human-capital variables. However, this simple model is not necessarily applicable cross culturally and may lose much of its explanatory power in other societies, where immigrants encounter different labor-market conditions. This article evaluates multivariate models of wage determination for samples of foreign workers interviewed in 1996 in San Diego County, California, and the Japanese industrial city of Hamamatsu. In contrast to San Diego, the standard measures of human capital do not significantly influence immigrant wages in Hamamatsu. Instead, social capital has a much greater impact on immigrant wages in Japan than in the United States. Ethnographic research conducted at both sites suggests explanations for these divergent results and illustrates the importance of reception contexts (host societies) in determining labor-market outcomes for immigrant workers.