This study contributes to the field of immigrant integration with an analysis of earning trajectories of six immigrant groups of Asian origins—Pakistani, Turkish, Sri Lankan, Indian, Vietnamese, and Philippine—which hold white-collar positions within the private industry. The study is based on panel data from 1979 to 1996, and contains Norway’s first large influx of labor immigrants from the global south.
Employee’s labor market outcome is mainly decided by two factors—performance and evaluation. I use theories of labor market integration to address both these aspects. Variation in labor market outcomes within the immigrant population can be a result of difference in origin or reception. In addition, I consider community effects to the discussion. I sort my theoretical framework according to the three effects. First, I discuss aspects of origin with theory of human capital, country specific capital, and immigrant status. I test how group experience different return of education—both host country schooling and education from country of origin. The analyses also points to the importance of status—to arrive as political or economic immigrant. Secondly, reception effects are considered by employing theories of discrimination. I look at the effect of residency on immigrants’ income, and discuss this in relation to statistical discrimination and signaling. Contact theory and theory of competition are investigated in analyses of group size and its affect on inter-group attitudes. Finally, I discuss theories of social capital and group size, and how resources available in ones community can affect labor market outcomes.
The study has both and empirical and a theoretical purpose. Empirically, the study has two main contributions. First, I challenge a common assumption of homogeneity within the immigrant population. I discard the use of the non-western category in my analyses, and instead employ categories of national origin. I show great variation within the group of immigrants commonly considered non-western. Secondly, I find, despite the diversity, a continuation of the gap between native and the selected immigrant groups. With very few exceptions do immigrants’ earnings exceed natives’.
Theoretically, the study contributes with a critical discussion of categorization. Backed by my findings, I illustrate how important it is to acknowledge the arbitrariness and inconsistency of categories like immigrant. At the same time, however, categorization is necessary in the implementation of integration policies. An important implication of this is that categories should not be used to make generalizations and build negative stereotypes regarding certain groups.