The earnings of Asian engineers in the United States: Race, nativity, degree origin, and influences of institutional factors on human capital and earnings

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Abstract

This paper examines the effects of race, nativity (birthplace), and degree origin on the earnings of college-educated, full-time Asian engineers in the United States when compared with whites and with each other. When personal, educational, and employment characteristics are controlled for, ordinary least-squares and quantile regressions at the 10th, 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles show that being Asian did not have a disadvantage in 1993 or 2003. The second factor, Asian nativity, had a negative effect at one percentile in each year. The most striking finding is that having the highest degree from an Asian institution, compared with that received in the United States, led to earning disadvantages at all percentiles in 1993 (from 8.7% to 22.6%) and in 2003 (from 6.1% to 11.7%). The degree origin effect can be explained by queuing and devaluation theories but better by the region-specific human capital (and social capital) theory. The decline of the degree origin effect over time can be explained by changes in institutional factors, including improvements in Asian education, closer US -Asian connections, and changes in human resource needs for the science and engineering workforce in the United States.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-249
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)

Keywords

  • Asian education
  • Asians
  • Devaluation theory
  • Engineers
  • Quantile regression
  • Queuing theory
  • Region-specific human capital

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