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Spillovers from Immigrant Diversity in Cities

Listed author(s):
  • Thomas Kemeny
  • Abigail Cooke

Using comprehensive longitudinal matched employer-employee data for the U.S., this paper provides new evidence on the relationship between productivity and immigration spawned urban diversity. Existing empirical work has uncovered a robust positive correlation between productivity and immigrant diversity, supporting theory suggesting that diversity acts as a local public good that makes workers more productive by enlarging the pool of knowledge available to them, as well as by fostering opportunities for them to recombine ideas to generate novelty. This paper makes several empirical and conceptual contributions. First, it improves on existing empirical work by addressing various sources of potential bias, especially from unobserved heterogeneity among individuals, work establishments, and cities. Second, it augments identification by using longitudinal data that permits examination of how diversity and productivity co-move. Third, the paper seeks to reveal whether diversity acts upon productivity chiefly at the scale of the city or the workplace. Findings confirm that urban immigrant diversity produces positive and nontrivial spillovers for U.S. workers. This social return represents a distinct channel through which immigration generates broad-based economic benefits.

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File URL: https://www2.census.gov/ces/wp/2015/CES-WP-15-37.pdf
File Function: First version, 2015
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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 15-37.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2015
Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:15-37
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