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Flight of the H-1B: Inter-Firm Mobility and Return Migration Patterns for Skilled Guest Workers

  • Depew, Briggs

    ()

    (Louisiana State University)

  • Norlander, Peter

    ()

    (Loyola University)

  • Sorensen, Todd A.

    ()

    (University of Nevada, Reno)

Critics of the H-1B program for high-skilled workers argue that the program restricts immigrant job mobility and lacks a vehicle for adjusting the number of visas during a recession. We study the job mobility of highly-skilled Indian IT guest workers and provide new evidence on their inter-firm mobility and return migration patterns. We use a unique multi-year firm level dataset to show that, outside of the Great Recession, these workers are mobile and that lower paid guest workers are more likely than higher paid guest workers to separate to another firm in the U.S. We also analyze return migration decisions and find that low wage workers repatriate more than high wage workers, and that this relationship intensified during the Great Recession. This partially mitigates concerns that guest worker visa programs do not adjust to fluctuations in the macro economy. Following this finding, we show that the employment to population ratio (EPOP) for highly-skilled male workers has fallen at a much steeper rate since 2008 than is typically recognized, once we account for the phenomenon of discouraged immigrants.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7456.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming in: Journal of Population Economics
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7456
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  1. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2013. "Skilled Immigration and the Employment Structures of U.S. Firms," NBER Working Papers 19658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. George J. Borjas & Kirk B. Doran, 2012. "The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians," NBER Working Papers 17800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sankar Mukhopadhyay & David Oxborrow, 2012. "The Value of an Employment-Based Green Card," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(1), pages 219-237, February.
  4. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2008. "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and US Ethnic Invention," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-005, Harvard Business School.
  5. Paul J. Devereux & Robert A. Hart, 2006. "Real Wage Cyclicality of Job Stayers, Within-Company Job Movers, and Between-Company Job Movers," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 105-119, October.
  6. Ransom, Michael R. & Sims, David P., 2009. "Estimating the Firm's Labor Supply Curve in a "New Monopsony" Framework: School Teachers in Missouri," IZA Discussion Papers 4271, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Webber, Douglas A., 2015. "Firm market power and the earnings distribution," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 123-134.
  8. Boris Hirsch, 2007. "Joan Robinson Meets Harold Hotelling: A Dyopsonistic Explanation of the Gender Pay Gap," Working Papers 024, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
  9. Julie L. Hotchkiss & Myriam Quispe-Agnoli, 2009. "Employer monopsony power in the labor market for undocumented workers," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2009-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  10. Depew, Briggs & Sorensen, Todd A., 2011. "Elasticity of Supply to the Firm and the Business Cycle," IZA Discussion Papers 5928, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Torberg Falch, 2010. "The Elasticity of Labor Supply at the Establishment Level," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 237-266, 04.
  12. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 18011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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