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The portability of new immigrants’ human capital: Language, education, and occupational skills

Given the declining returns to pre-migration labour market experience, human capital portability is explored for new immigrants focusing on pre- And post-immigration occupational matching, and its interactions with education and language. New immigrants who match occupations obtain an earnings premium, but surprisingly, on average, even they obtain no return to their pre-migration labour market experience. Only males with substantial English proficiency who also match occupations receive any return to such experience. Moreover, occupational matching and English skills are also seen to interact with education in an unexpected way. For both sexes, only those with a match and/or strong English proficiency obtain a positive return to their schooling. The commonly observed low rate of return to education for new immigrants appears to be a combination of zero for some and a large return for others. Of the varieties of human capital studied, only English language skills are universally rewarded.