Africology Seminar Series

“Noncitizen Employment and the Wages of Healthcare Support Workers in the US”

A presentation by professor of economics 
James H. Peoples, PhD

February 2nd, 2018

12:30-1:30 pm

Mitchell Hall 206

This study considers contrasting hypotheses on relative wages of citizens and noncitizens employed as healthcare support workers, a disproportionate number of whom are black women. On one hand, weak enforcement of prevailing wage legislation for immigrants and possible employment of undocumented workers predicts noncitizen-citizen wage differences and a negative noncitizen wage effect on citizen support workers.  On the other hand, citizen status job heterogeneity also predicts a citizen status wage differential, however, lower wages paid to noncitizens is not predicted to negatively influence wages of support workers who are citizens. Findings for noncitizens with less than eight years of US residency do reveal a citizen-noncitizen wage differential statistically significantly greater than the legal maximum.   Elasticity of substitution findings suggest noncitizen support workers are not close substitutes for healthcare support workers who are US citizens, and additional wage findings do not reveal a statistically significant noncitizen wage effect.  These findings are consistent with the prediction of the citizen status job heterogeneity hypothesis. However, finding noncitizen-citizen wage differences does not allow for ruling out the possibility of weak enforcement of prevailing wage legislation and possible employment of undocumented workers.