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

Author

Listed:
  • Depew, Briggs

    () (Utah State University)

  • Norlander, Peter

    () (Loyola University)

  • Sorensen, Todd A.

    () (University of Nevada, Reno)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Depew, Briggs & Norlander, Peter & Sorensen, Todd A., 2013. "Flight of the H-1B: Inter-Firm Mobility and Return Migration Patterns for Skilled Guest Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 7456, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7456
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Chad Sparber, 2015. "The Value of H-1B Status in Times of Scarcity," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1510, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    2. Kuhn, Peter J. & Shen, Kailing, 2014. "Do Employers Prefer Undocumented Workers? Evidence from China's Hukou System," IZA Discussion Papers 8289, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Peter Kuhn & Kailing Shen, 2015. "Do employers prefer migrant workers? Evidence from a Chinese job board," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-31, December.
    4. Jahn, Elke & Hirsch, Boris, 2012. "Is there monopsonistic discrimination against immigrants? First evidence from linked employer employee data," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 65417, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Giovanni Peri & Kevin Shih & Chad Sparber, 2016. "STEM Workers, H-1B Visas, and Productivity in US Cities," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Economics of International Migration, chapter 9, pages 277-307 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    6. Giovanni Peri & Kevin Y. Shih & Chad Sparber, 2014. "Foreign STEM Workers and Native Wages and Employment in U.S. Cities," NBER Working Papers 20093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Chad Sparber, 2015. "Building a Better H-1B Program," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1513, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    business cycles; labor market frictions; skilled migration;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles

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