Investing in the Human Capital of Immigrants, Strengthening Regional Economies

Audrey Singer
Date of Publication: 
September, 2012
Source Organization: 
Brookings Institution

This paper stresses the importance of maximizing the productivity of the existing immigrant population to boost short- and long-term economic growth in the United States.

The author, Audrey Singer, notes that immigrant workers are more likely to be underemployed, i.e. overqualified for current jobs, than similarly educated native-born workers, especially immigrants with post-secondary education. Noting the growing interest in reforming immigration policy to match the needs of the U.S. economy, she suggests that "the opportunity to take advantage of the skills of incumbent immigrants by investing in their potential" is a complementary and equally promising strategy.

The balance of the paper provides capsule summaries of innovative workforce development programs that have successfully pursued this strategy. Many of these programs provide clear pathways to occupationally-specific credentials and jobs building in contextualized English language instruction along the way. (Abstract by Prof. Nick Montalto)

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Singer, A. 2012. Investing in the Human Capital of Immigrants, Strengthening Regional Economies. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution. Retrieved from