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Quotas and Quality: The Effect of H-1B Visa Restrictions on the Pool of Prospective Undergraduate Students from Abroad

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Abstract

In deciding upon whether to pursue an undergraduate education in the United States, a foreign student considers the expected probability of securing US employment after graduation. The H-1B visa provides a primary means of legal employment for college-educated foreign-nationals. In October 2003, the government drastically reduced the number of available H-1B visas, hence lowering a college-educated foreign-born worker’s probability of finding US employment, and possibly discouraging highly qualified international students from attending US colleges and universities. However, citizens from five countries are de facto exempt from the 2003 H-1B visa restrictions. Using students from these five exempt nations as the control group and other international students as the treatment, we study the effects of the 2003 H-1B policy change on the pool of international applicants to US schools. We use two datasets: (i) College Board SAT score data on prospective international applicants; and (ii) SAT and high-school GPA data on international applicants to a single highly-selective university. Our difference-in-difference estimates show that restrictive immigration policy has had an adverse impact on the quality of prospective international applicants, reducing their SAT scores by about 1.5%. This effect is driven mostly by a decline in the number of SAT score reports sent by international students at the top-quintile of the SAT score distribution, suggesting that the restrictive immigration policy disproportionately discourages high-ability international students from pursuing US education. Our results are robust to alternative specifications, including the use of high-school GPA as a measure of applicant ability.

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File URL: http://commons.colgate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1017&context=econ_facschol
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, Colgate University in its series Working Papers with number 2011-02.

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Date of creation: Jun 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cgt:wpaper:2011-02

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Keywords: Skilled Immigration; Immigrant Selection; H-1B Visa; College Education; SATScores;

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References

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  1. M. Kathleen Thomas, 2004. "Where College-Bound Students Send Their SAT Scores: Does Race Matter?-super-," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1374-1389.
  2. Yiu Por Chen, 2005. "Skill-Sorting, Self-Selectivity, and Immigration Policy Regime Change: Two Surveys of Chinese Graduate Students' Intention to Study Abroad," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 66-70, May.
  3. Hunt, Jennifer, 2010. "Which Immigrants Are Most Innovative and Entrepreneurial? Distinctions by Entry Visa," IZA Discussion Papers 4745, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  5. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2010. "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and US Ethnic Invention," NBER Working Papers 15768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Clark, Ximena & Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2004. "Explaining U.S. immigration, 1971-98," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3252, The World Bank.
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  15. Griffith, Amanda & Rask, Kevin, 2007. "The influence of the US News and World Report collegiate rankings on the matriculation decision of high-ability students: 1995-2004," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 244-255, April.
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  17. Sharon G. Levin & Grant C. Black & Anne E. Winkler & Paula E. Stephan, 2004. "Differential Employment Patterns for Citizens and Non-Citizens in Science and Engineering in the United States: Minting and Competitive Effects," Growth and Change, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, vol. 35(4), pages 456-475.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The Effect of Visa Restrictions on Higher Education
    by Ariel Goldring in Free Market Mojo on 2010-06-23 11:32:26
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Cited by:
  1. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln & Prachi Mishra, 2014. "The Dynamics of Firm Lobbying," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp1072, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  2. Christian Dustmann & Albrecht Glitz, 2011. "Migration and Education," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2011011, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.
  3. Bouoiyour, Jamal & Miftah, Amal & Selmi, Refk, 2014. "Brain Drain or Brain Gain? The case of Moroccan Students in France," MPRA Paper 56630, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Peter Huber & Julia Bock-Schappelwein, 2013. "The Impact of Migration Policy on Migrants’ Education Structure: Evidence from Austrian Policy Reform," DANUBE: Law and Economics Review, European Association Comenius - EACO, issue 1, pages 1-21, March.

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