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Highly-Educated Immigrants and Native Occupational Choice

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Economic debate about the consequences of immigration in the US has largely focused on how influxes of foreign-born labor with little educational attainment have affected similarly-educated native-born workers. Fewer studies analyze the effect of immigration within the market for highly-educated labor. We use O*NET data on job characteristics to assess whether native-born workers with graduate degrees respond to an increased presence of highly-educated foreign-born workers by choosing new occupations with different skill content. We find that highly-educated native and foreign-born workers are imperfect substitutes. Immigrants with graduate degrees specialize in occupations demanding quantitative and analytical skills, whereas their native-born counterparts specialize in occupations requiring interactive and communication skills. When the foreign-born proportion of highly-educated employment within an occupation rises, native employees with graduate degrees choose new occupations with less analytical and more communicative content.

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File URL: http://commons.colgate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=econ_facschol
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Colgate University in its series Working Papers with number 2010-09.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cgt:wpaper:2010-09

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Keywords: Immigration; Occupational Choice; Highly-Educated Workers; Communication Skills; Mathematical Skills;

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