Vietnamese Manicurists: Are Immigrants Displacing Natives or Finding New Nails to Polish?
Although many people believe that immigrants displace native workers, most economic research finds that immigration has little or no adverse effect on natives’ employment outcomes. An unusual opportunity to explore this question in the context of a narrowly defined labor market is afforded by the influx of Vietnamese immigrants into California’s market for manicurists. Over the years 1987–2002, the number of these new entrants (35,700) slightly exceeded the total number of manicurists in California in 1987 (35,500). Using data for 34 metropolitan areas over the 16-year period, the authors estimate that for every five Vietnamese who entered the market, two non-Vietnamese were displaced. This displacement appears to have been primarily due to a reduction in the number of non-Vietnamese entering the occupation rather than to an increase in the number of current manicurists leaving it.
"The Impact of State Licensing Laws on Low-skilled Immigrants: The Case of Vietnamese Manicurists?" with Maya Federman and Kathy Krynski. American Economic Review, 96(2) (May 2006): 237-241