Skilled Foreign Workers in Italy: an Alternative Measurement Method
The issue of high skilled migration is of increasing importance in the policy debates in a diverse set of countries, however, very little is know about the effects and the magnitude of high skill migration also because data on this topic are very scarce. The debate about the effect of immigration in Italy has been exclusively focused on the unskilled immigrants and their effect on the labour market, almost nothing is known about the skilled foreign workers. The phenomenon is not so important as in other countries (i.e. U.S., UK and Germany), however, the share of foreign workers among white collars and managers is constantly increasing in the last years; moreover, it is often declared by employers a shortage of skilled manual workers that can only be satisfied by foreign workers. As the Eurostat Labour Force Survey, one of the few dataset available to study this issue, cannot be used because foreign workers are underrepresented for southern European countries like Italy, we propose here an alternative method based to the salary paid to the worker. We use the distribution of individual wages, after controlling for observable individual and firm characteristics, to measure skill that is defined as unobservable "ability" for which the worker receives a wage premium over the main wage paid to workers with similar observable characteristics. Descriptive statistics on the characteristics of skilled immigrants confirm the shared knowledge that there is a demand for highly specialised manual workers which is satisfied by experienced male workers coming from non European countries. Moreover a simple test is carried out to investigate which are the motivation of mobility inside Europe, and the effect of European integration policy and international trade.
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