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Immigration and National Wages: Clarifying the Theory and the Empirics

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Author Info

  • Gianmarco I P Ottaviano

    (Università di Bologna)

  • Giovanni Peri

    (University of California)

Abstract

This paper estimates the effects of immigration on wages of native workers at the national U.S. level. Following Borjas (2003) we focus on national labor markets for workers of different skills and we enrich his methodology and refine previous estimates. We emphasize that a production function framework is needed to combine workers of different skills in order to evaluate the competition as well as cross-skill complementary effects of immigrants on wages. We also emphasize the importance (and estimate the value) of the elasticity of substitution between workers with at most a high school degree and those without one. Since the two groups turn out to be close substitutes, this strongly dilutes the effects of competition between immigrants and workers with no degree. We then estimate the substitutability between natives and immigrants and we find a small but significant degree of imperfect substitution which further decreases the competitive effect of immigrants. Finally, we account for the short run and long run adjustment of capital in response to immigration. Using our estimates and Census data we find that immigration (1990-2006) had small negative effects in the short run on native workers with no high school degree (-0.7%) and on average wages (-0.4%) while it had small positive effects on native workers with no high school degree (+0.3%) and on average native wages (+0.6%) in the long run. These results are perfectly in line with the estimated aggregate elasticities in the labor literature since Katz and Murphy (1992). We also find a wage effect of new immigrants on previous immigrants in the order of negative 6%.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2008.77.

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Date of creation: Sep 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2008.77

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Keywords: Less Educated Workers; Physical Capital Adjustment; Skill Complementarities and Wages;

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References

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  1. Francesco D'Amuri & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2008. "The Labor Market Impact of Immigration in Western Germany in the 1990's," NBER Working Papers 13851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Giovanni Peri & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2006. "Rethinking the Effects of Immigration on Wages," Working Papers 634, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  3. David Card & Ethan G. Lewis, 2007. "The Diffusion of Mexican Immigrants During the 1990s: Explanations and Impacts," NBER Chapters, in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 193-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist, 1995. "The Economic Returns to Schooling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," Working papers 95-5, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Directed Technical Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 781-809.
  6. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2004. "The Economic Value of Cultural Diversity: Evidence from US Cities," NBER Working Papers 10904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2004. "Cities and Cultures," Working Papers 2004.92, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  8. Caselli, Francesco & Coleman II, Wilbur John, 2000. "The World Technology Frontier," CEPR Discussion Papers 2584, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Islam, Nazrul, 1995. "Growth Empirics: A Panel Data Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(4), pages 1127-70, November.
  10. David Autor & Lawrence Katz & Alan Krueger, 1997. "Computing Inequality: Have Computers Changed the Labor Market?," Working Papers 756, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  11. David Card, 1990. "The impact of the Mariel boatlift on the Miami labor market," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
  12. George J. Borjas & Jeffrey Grogger & Gordon H. Hanson, 2008. "Imperfect Substitution between Immigrants and Natives: A Reappraisal," NBER Working Papers 13887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. George E. Johnson, 1997. "Changes in Earnings Inequality: The Role of Demand Shifts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 41-54, Spring.
  14. Simonetta Longhi & Peter Nijkamp & Jacques Poot, 2004. "A Meta-Analytic Assessment of the Effect of Immigration on Wages," Population Studies Centre Discussion Papers dp-47, University of Waikato, Population Studies Centre.
  15. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & JosÈ-Victor RÌos-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 2000. "Capital-Skill Complementarity and Inequality: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(5), pages 1029-1054, September.
  16. Felbermayr, Gabriel J. & Geis, Wido & Kohler, Wilhelm K., 2008. "Restrictive immigration policy in Germany: pains and gains foregone?," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2008,18, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  17. George J. Borjas & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "The Evolution of the Mexican-Born Workforce in the United States," NBER Working Papers 11281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. George J. Borjas, 2006. "Native Internal Migration and the Labor Market Impact of Immigration," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
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  21. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  23. David Card, 2007. "How Immigration Affects U.S. Cities," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0711, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  24. Card, David, 2001. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 22-64, January.
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  28. repec:chb:bcchwp:03 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Ethan Lewis, 2005. "Immigration, Skill Mix, and the Choice of Technique," Working Papers 05-04, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  30. Grossman, Jean Baldwin, 1982. "The Substitutability of Natives and Immigrants in Production," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(4), pages 596-603, November.
  31. Caselli, Francesco & Esquivel, Gerardo & Lefort, Fernando, 1996. " Reopening the Convergence Debate: A New Look at Cross-Country Growth Empirics," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 363-89, September.
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  33. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2000. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  1. Productivity vs immigration
    by chris dillow in Stumbling and Mumbling on 2011-04-07 12:58:12
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