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Task Specialisation, Immigration and Wages

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  • Giovanni Peri

    () (University of California, Davis)

  • Chad Sparber

    (Colgate University)

Abstract

Many workers with low levels of educational attainment immigrated to the United States in recent decades. In a simple model exploiting comparative advantage we show that if less-educated foreign and native-born workers specialize in performing different tasks, immigration will cause natives to reallocate their task supply, thereby reducing downward wage pressure. We merge occupational task-intensity data from the O*NET and DOT datasets with individual Census data across US states from 1960-2000 to demonstrate that foreign-born workers specialize in occupations that require manual and physical labor skills while natives pursue jobs more intensive in communication and language tasks. This increased specialization might explain why economic analyses commonly find only modest wage and employment consequences of immigration for less-educated native-born workers across U.S. states.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2008. "Task Specialisation, Immigration and Wages," Development Working Papers 252, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:csl:devewp:252
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigration; Less-Educated Labor; Manual Tasks; Communication Skills; Comparative Advantages; US States;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • 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
    • R13 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General Equilibrium and Welfare Economic Analysis of Regional Economies

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