Immigrants who Americanize their Names Earn more Money

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
(graphic: redbubble.com)

Going with the cultural flow when it comes to names can result in higher earnings in the United States for immigrants, according to a new study (pdf).

 

Research by the Institute for the Study of Labor found immigrants who Americanized their names earned more than those who kept their original names, regardless of what they did for a living. Changing first names to popular ones like John or William resulted in a wage boost of as much as 14%.

 

The research was based on information from 3,353 male immigrants found on Ancestry.com. The immigrants were mostly from Italy, Russia, Poland or the Czech Republic.

 

“Throughout our analysis and across numerous specifications,” researchers Costanza Biavaschi, Corrado Giulietti and Zahra Siddique wrote (pdf), “we find a substantial payoff of name Americanization. Further tests suggest that name Americanization was more common among migrants that were likely low skilled, more discriminated against, or with less alternative means for socio-economic improvement.”

 

“At a broader level,” they added, “our results highlight the existence of a tradeoff between maintaining individual identity and enhancing labor market success, suggesting that cultural assimilation was instrumental to economic assimilation.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

 

To Learn More:

The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization (by Costanza Biavaschi, Corrado Giulietti and Zahra Siddique, University of Reading and IZA) (pdf)

If You Americanize Your Name, You’ll Make More Money: Study (by Scott Kaufman, Raw Story)

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