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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

    ()

    (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • 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:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7456
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  1. 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.
  2. Paul J. Devereux & Robert A. Hart, 2006. "Real wage cyclicality of job stayers, within-company job movers, and between-company job movers," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 105-119, October.
  3. William Kerr & William Lincoln, 2010. "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and US Ethnic Invention," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp978, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  4. Torberg Falch, 2008. "The elasticity of labor supply at the establishment level," Working Papers 1106, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  5. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2013. "Skilled Immigration and the Employment Structures of U.S. Firms," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-040, Harvard Business School.
  6. 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).
  7. Hirsch, Boris, 2007. "Joan Robinson Meets Harold Hotelling : A Dyopsonistic Explanation of the Gender Pay Gap," Discussion Papers 51, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Chair of Labour and Regional Economics.
  8. Borjas, George J. & Doran, Kirk B., 2012. "The Collapse of the Soviet Union and the Productivity of American Mathematicians," Working Paper Series rwp12-004, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  9. 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).
  10. Douglas Webber, 2011. "Firm Market Power and the Earnings Distribution," Working Papers 11-41, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  11. Julie L. Hotchkiss & Myriam Quispe-Agnoli, 2009. "Employer monopsony power in the labor market for undocumented workers," Working Paper 2009-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  12. Sankar Mukhopadhyay & David Oxborrow, 2012. "The Value of an Employment-Based Green Card," Demography, Springer, vol. 49(1), pages 219-237, February.
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