Effects of a High-skilled Immigration Policy and Immigrant Occupational Attainment on Domestic Wages Effects
The recent international literature on immigration wage effects has shown contrasting results. Past studies have focussed on the effect of low skilled immigrants on native-born workers in the US, and have yielded results ranging from no impact to negative impacts. This paper, by contrast, explores the outcomes of highly skilled immigration on the wages of native born workers in a controlled environment. New Zealand represents a useful case study in this context, as it actively encourages skilled immigration and has exceptionally accurate immigrant data. Our analysis makes use of unit record data and incorporates labour markets across region, skill, and occupation groups. One of our contributions to this literature is to consider occupation and region as separate labour market choices. Furthermore, we separate the traditionally combined groupings of worker skill and occupation, thereby allowing us to study them independently. This approach enables us to realistically examine the downward movement by some immigrants to occupations that require less skill, and it provides greater detail that lends itself to more accurate analysis of potential wage effects. We find that contrary to what may be commonly expected there is no adverse wage impact from skilled immigration on native workers of similar skill. In addition, we find that highly skilled immigration has a small negative wage effect for low-skilled native workers. We discuss this effect while considering imperfect substitution, immigrant occupational movements, and the importance of auxiliary settlement policies to accompany high-skilled immigration policies.
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Volume (Year): 15 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
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