Do immigrants work in riskier jobs?

Demography. 2009 Aug;46(3):535-51. doi: 10.1353/dem.0.0064.


Recent media and government reports suggest that immigrants are more likely to hold jobs with poor working conditions than U.S.-born workers, perhaps because immigrants work in jobs that "natives don't want." Despite this widespread view, earlier studies have not found immigrants to be in riskier jobs than natives. This study combines individual-level data from the 2003-2005 American Community Survey with Bureau of Labor Statistics data on work-related injuries and fatalities to take afresh look at whether foreign-born workers are employed in more dangerous jobs. The results indicate that immigrants are in fact more likely to work in risky jobs than U.S.-born workers, partly due to differences in average characteristics, such as immigrants' lower English-language ability and educational attainment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dangerous Behavior*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multilingualism
  • Occupational Diseases / ethnology*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality
  • Occupations / statistics & numerical data*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / ethnology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality