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The Effect of Recent Technological Change on US Immigration Policy

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  • Björn Brey

Abstract

Did recent technological change shape immigration policy in the United States? I argue that as automation shifted employment from routine to manual occupations, it increased competition between natives and immigrants. In turn, this lead to a more restrictive US immigration policy. I provide empirical evidence for this by analyzing voting on low-skill immigration bills in the House of Representatives. Policy makers representing congressional districts with a higher share of manual employment and those exposed to manual-biased technological change are more likely to support restricting low-skill immigration. Additional results on the effect of (i) immigration on wages, (ii) voter’s attitudes on low-skill immigration, and (iii) political polarization complete the analysis. I do not find a corresponding effect of technological change on trade policy consistent with the highlighted mechanism.

Suggested Citation

  • Björn Brey, 2022. "The Effect of Recent Technological Change on US Immigration Policy," Working Papers ECARES 2022-34, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/351267
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    1. Mirjam Bächli & Teodora Tsankova, 2021. "Does Labor Protection Increase Support for Immigration? Evidence from Switzerland," CESifo Working Paper Series 9373, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political Economy; Voting; Immigration Policy; Technological Change;
    All these keywords.

    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
    • K37 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Immigration Law
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General

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