Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SULCIS Working Papers,
Stockholm University, Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS

No 2007:1: Giving Up Foreign Names: An Empirical Examination of Surname Change and Earnings

Mahmood Arai () and Peter Skogman Thoursie ()
Additional contact information
Mahmood Arai: Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS, Postal: Stockholm University Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden
Peter Skogman Thoursie: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: In this paper we compare the earnings development for a group of immigrants that changes their names to Swedish-sounding or neutral names with immigrants who retain their names from the same region of birth. Our results indicate that name-changers are apparently similar to name-keepers and the earnings before the name change is essentially the same for both groups. However, an earnings gap after the name change is observed. The earnings gap corresponds to on average approximately 26 percent. Our understanding of the data and our results is that the groups are similar before the name change and that the earnings gap after the name change should be attributed to the name change. Our results should be viewed as evidence of unequal treatment of immigrants and natives in the Swedish labor market.

Keywords: Ethnic discrimination; earnings development; name change

JEL-codes: J64; J71

39 pages, December 20, 2006

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