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Highly-Educated Immigrants and Native Occupational Choice

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Abstract

Economic debate about the consequences of immigration in the US has largely focused on how influxes of foreign-born labor with little educational attainment have affected similarly-educated native-born workers. Fewer studies analyze the effect of immigration within the market for highly-educated labor. We use O*NET data on job characteristics to assess whether native-born workers with graduate degrees respond to an increased presence of highly-educated foreign-born workers by choosing new occupations with different skill content. We find that highly-educated native and foreign-born workers are imperfect substitutes. Immigrants with graduate degrees specialize in occupations demanding quantitative and analytical skills, whereas their native-born counterparts specialize in occupations requiring interactive and communication skills. When the foreign-born proportion of highly-educated employment within an occupation rises, native employees with graduate degrees choose new occupations with less analytical and more communicative content.

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  • Peri, Giovanni & Sparber, Chad, 2010. "Highly-Educated Immigrants and Native Occupational Choice," Working Papers 2010-09, Department of Economics, Colgate University.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgt:wpaper:2010-09
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigration; Occupational Choice; Highly-Educated Workers; Communication Skills; Mathematical Skills;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration

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