UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics

Dean Yang, University of Michigan

Information, Social Networks, and Immigrant Integration: A Randomized Experiment among New U.S. Immigrants from the Philippines

Date and Location

Tuesday, May 14, 2019, 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM
ARE Library Conference Room, 4101 Social Sciences and Humanities


New immigrants may have imperfect information about their new countries of residence, limiting their ability to integrate and worsening their well-being. Social networks of prior migrants may provide useful information for new immigrant integration. We implemented a randomized controlled trial testing the impact of reducing imperfect information problems among new U.S. immigrants from the Philippines. In collaboration with the Philippine government, we designed a pre-departure orientation seminar and a physical handbook with detailed information on integration into U.S. society, and randomly assigned them to Filipinos about to depart to the U.S. as new Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs, or “green card” holders). The treatment led to more rapid initial settlement (e.g., obtaining a driver’s license, health insurance, a bank account, and a social security card). The treatment also led to smaller social networks in the U.S., as measured by number of friends (both Filipino- and U.S.-born) and participation in Filipino associations. We find no impacts on employment outcomes or self-reported well-being. Our results reveal that incomplete information slows the process of immigrant integration, that social networks serve as key sources of information for new immigrants, and that when new immigrants are better-informed they invest less in developing social networks in their new societies.

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