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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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