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


  • Takao Kato

    (Colgate University, IZA Bonn, Center on Japanese Economy and Business (Columbia Business School), Tokyo Center for Economic Research (University of Tokyo), and Center for Corporate Performance (Aarhus School of Business))

  • Chad Sparber

    (Colgate University and Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), University College London)


In October 2003, the United States drastically reduced the number of H-1B visas available for foreign-born workers. Such restrictions could make U.S. colleges less attractive to foreign students considering an American education as a pathway to U.S. employment. Citizens from five countries are de facto exempt from the visa restrictions, however. Our difference-in-difference estimates show that restrictive immigration policy reduced SAT scores of international applicants by about 1.5% and decreased the number of SAT score reports sent by international students at the top quintile of the SAT score distribution. Restrictive immigration policy disproportionately discourages high-ability international students from pursuing education in the United States. © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Takao Kato & Chad Sparber, 2013. "Quotas and Quality: The Effect of H-1B Visa Restrictions on the Pool of Prospective Undergraduate Students from Abroad," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 109-126, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:1:p:109-126

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William Kerr & Çağlar Özden & Christopher Parsons, 2017. "High-Skilled Migration and Agglomeration," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 9(1), pages 201-234, September.
    2. Andreas Beerli & Ronald Indergand, 2014. "Which Factors Drive the Skill-Mix of Migrants in the Long-Run?," Diskussionsschriften dp1501, Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft.
    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. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William Kerr & Çağlar Özden & Christopher Parsons, 2016. "Global Talent Flows," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 83-106, Fall.
    5. Petr Huber & Julia Bock-Schappelwein, 2013. "The Impact of Migration Policy on Migrants' Education Structure: Evidence from an Austrian Policy Reform," MENDELU Working Papers in Business and Economics 2013-35, Mendel University in Brno, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    6. Martin Kahanec & Mariola Pytliková, 2017. "The economic impact of east–west migration on the European Union," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 407-434, August.
    7. 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.
    8. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln & Prachi Mishra, 2014. "The Dynamics of Firm Lobbying," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 343-379, November.
    9. Peter Huber & Julia Bock-Schappelwein, 2014. "The Effects of Liberalizing Migration on Permanent Migrants' Education Structure," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(2), pages 268-284, March.
    10. John Bound & Murat Demirci & Gaurav Khanna & Sarah Turner, 2015. "Finishing Degrees and Finding Jobs: US Higher Education and the Flow of Foreign IT Workers," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 27-72.
    11. Lewis, Ethan & Peri, Giovanni, 2015. "Immigration and the Economy of Cities and Regions," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    12. Dustmann, Christian & Glitz, Albrecht, 2011. "Migration and Education," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    13. Mathias Czaika & Christopher R. Parsons, 2017. "The Gravity of High-Skilled Migration Policies," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(2), pages 603-630, April.
    14. Arnaud Chevalier, 2014. "How to attract foreign students," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-36, July.
    15. Chad Sparber, 2015. "Building a Better H-1B Program," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1513, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    16. repec:eee:pubeco:v:156:y:2017:i:c:p:170-184 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Gordon H. Hanson & Chen Liu, 2017. "High-Skilled Immigration and the Comparative Advantage of Foreign-Born Workers across US Occupations," NBER Chapters,in: High-Skilled Migration to the United States and its Economic Consequences National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    skilled immigration; immigrant selection; H-1B visa; college education; SAT scores;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers


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