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Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages

  • Giovanni Peri
  • Chad Sparber

Large inflows of less educated immigrants may reduce wages paid to comparably-educated, native-born workers. However, if less educated foreign- and native-born workers specialize in different production tasks, because of different abilities, immigration will cause natives to reallocate their task supply, thereby reducing downward wage pressure. Using occupational task-intensity data from the O*NET dataset and individual US census data, we demonstrate that foreign-born workers specialize in occupations intensive in manual-physical labor skills while natives pursue jobs more intensive in communication-language tasks. This mechanism can explain why economic analyses find only modest wage consequences of immigration for less educated native-born workers. (JEL J24, J31, J61)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 135-69

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:3:p:135-69
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.3.135
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