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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Immigration and Entrepreneurship

  • Author(s): Fairlie, Robert;
  • et al.

A growing body of research on immigrant entrepreneurship has developed over the past several years. In this chapter we provide an overview of the economics literature with respect to some of the most fundamental immigrant entrepreneurship issues as well as the empirical methods and data used. We review this literature through the lens of estimating the net contribution made by immigrant entrepreneurs to the host economy. Immigration is a very hotly debated topic because of the contrasting concerns over lowering wages for existing workers, increasingly public assistance rolls, security and changing the demographic makeup of host countries, and the need for less- and high-skilled workers, supporting an aging population, insourcing instead of outsourcing labor, and family reunification. Central to the debate is whether immigrants provide a net positive or net negative contribution to host economy. Partly fueled by this debate, an extremely large literature in economics examines the separate impacts of immigrants on various parts of the economy such as the labor market, public assistance, tax system, and educational systems. Since much of the attention of the relevant research has been on the United States, this will be the focus of our discussion.

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