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Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages

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  • Giovanni Peri
  • Chad Sparber

Abstract

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)

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2009. "Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 135-169, July.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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    1. Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages (American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2009) in ReplicationWiki

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