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The Effect of Legal Status on Immigrant Wages and Occupational Skills

Native and foreign-born workers with a high school degree or less educational attainment provide unique occupational skills to the US labor force. This regularity might be driven, in part, by limited access to occupations for immigrants lacking legal rights to work in the US. This paper exploits exogenous policy change induced by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) to perform triple-difference estimation examining whether legal status causes immigrants to work in occupations that use skills more similar to those of native-born workers. We find that legal status decreases the manual skill intensity of Mexican immigrants by two percentiles. It increases communication skill intensity by an equivalent amount. This effect reduces the skill gap between Mexican-born and native-born American workers by 13%.

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File URL: http://commons.colgate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1046&context=econ_facschol
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Colgate University in its series Working Papers with number 2015-05.

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Date of creation: 31 Jul 2015
Date of revision: 06 Aug 2015
Handle: RePEc:cgt:wpaper:2015-05
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  1. Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2007. "Does immigration affect wages? A look at occupation-level evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(5), pages 757-773, October.
  2. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Cynthia Bansak, 2011. "The Impact of Amnesty on Labor Market Outcomes: A Panel Study Using the Legalized Population Survey," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 443-471, 07.
  3. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Bansak, Cynthia, 2011. "The Impact of Amnesty on Labor Market Outcomes: A Panel Study Using the Legalized Population Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 5576, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Friedberg, Rachel M, 2000. "You Can't Take It with You? Immigrant Assimilation and the Portability of Human Capital," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 221-251, April.
  5. Sherrie A. Kossoudji & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark, 2002. "Coming out of the Shadows: Learning about Legal Status and Wages from the Legalized Population," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 598-628, July.
  6. Marco Manacorda & Alan Manning & Jonathan Wadsworth, 2012. "The Impact Of Immigration On The Structure Of Wages: Theory And Evidence From Britain," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 120-151, 02.
  7. Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2012. "Rethinking The Effect Of Immigration On Wages," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 152-197, 02.
  8. Joseph G. Altonji & David Card, 1991. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Less-skilled Natives," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 201-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Robert J. LaLonde & Robert H. Topel, 1991. "Labor Market Adjustments to Increased Immigration," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 167-199 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Lozano, Fernando A. & Sorensen, Todd A., 2011. "The Labor Market Value to Legal Status," IZA Discussion Papers 5492, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. David Card, 2012. "Comment: The Elusive Search For Negative Wage Impacts Of Immigration," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 211-215, 02.
  13. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1335-1374.
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