The Great Equalizer? Education, Gendered Social Ties, and the Occupational Attainment of Highly Skilled Immigrants

Elizabeth Jacobs , University of Pennsylvania
Nicole Kreisberg

This paper revisits conventional knowledge about gender differences in occupational attainment in the context of highly skilled legal migration to the United States. Drawing on a unique combination of nationally-representative survey data on over 1,000 lawful permanent residents and in-depth interviews with 43 immigrants, we find that a U.S. education has a large premium in the global labor market, and it has the power to mitigate the gender gap in occupational attainment among highly skilled legal immigrants in the United States. Gendered migrant alumni networks help explain the equalizing function of a U.S. education for women. By demonstrating aggregate occupational patterns among a nationally-representative sample of permanent residents, as well as an in-depth understanding of the process of occupational attainment, this article suggests that gendered social ties help explain the mobility-generating function of a U.S. education, particularly for highly skilled immigrant women in the labor market.

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 Presented in Session 237. The Demography of Authorized Migration