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Immigrant Misallocation

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Abstract

We quantify the barriers that impede the integration of immigrants into foreign labor markets and investigate their aggregate implications. We develop a model of occupational choice with natives and immigrants of multiple types whose decisions are subject to wedges which distort their allocation across occupations. We estimate the model to match salient features of U.S. and cross-country individual-level data. We find that there are sizable GDP gains from removing the wedges faced by immigrants in U.S. labor markets, accounting for approximately one-fifth of the overall economic contribution of immigrants to the U.S. economy. These effects arise from both increased flows from non-participation to predominantly manual jobs as well as from reallocation within the market sector that raises productivity in non-routine cognitive jobs. We contrast our findings for the U.S. with estimates for 11 high-income countries and document substantial differences in the magnitude of immigrant wedges across countries. Importantly, we find differences in the distribution of immigrant wedges across occupations lead to substantial variation in the gains from removing immigrant misallocation, even among countries with similar average degrees of distortions.

Suggested Citation

  • Serdar Birinci & Fernando Leibovici & Kurt See, 2021. "Immigrant Misallocation," Working Papers 2021-004, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:90705
    DOI: 10.20955/wp.2021.004
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrej Cupák & Pavel Ciaian & d'Artis Kancs, 2021. "Comparing the immigrant-native pay gap: A novel evidence from home and host countries," EERI Research Paper Series EERI RP 2021/05, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigration; Occupational Barriers; Mobility; Misallocation;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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