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Do Foreigners Crowd Natives out of STEM Degrees and Occupations? Evidence from the U.S. Immigration Act of 1990

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  • Ransom, Tyler

    (University of Oklahoma)

  • Winters, John V.

    (Iowa State University)

Abstract

This paper examines effects of the U.S. Immigration Act of 1990 on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degree completion and labor market outcomes for native-born Americans. The Act increased the in-flow and stock of foreign STEM workers in the U.S., both by increasing green card allotments and by expanding temporary work visas via the H-1B visa program. These policy changes potentially altered the relative desirability of various college majors and occupations for natives. We examine effects of the policy on STEM degree completion, STEM occupational choice, and employment rates separately for black and white males and females. We identify the effects using variation in natives' exposure to foreign STEM workers and the geographic dispersion in foreign-born STEM workers in 1980, which precedes the Act and predicts future foreign STEM flows. We find that the Immigration Act changed natives' skill investment and utilization in three ways: (1) it pushed black males out of STEM majors; (2) it pushed white male STEM graduates out of STEM occupations; and (3) it pushed white female STEM graduates out of the workforce.

Suggested Citation

  • Ransom, Tyler & Winters, John V., 2016. "Do Foreigners Crowd Natives out of STEM Degrees and Occupations? Evidence from the U.S. Immigration Act of 1990," IZA Discussion Papers 9920, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9920
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Russell Weinstein, 2022. "Local Labor Markets and Human Capital Investments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 57(5), pages 1498-1525.
    2. Shimeng Liu & Weizeng Sun & John V. Winters, 2019. "Up In Stem, Down In Business: Changing College Major Decisions With The Great Recession," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(3), pages 476-491, July.
    3. Daniel Crown & Alessandra Faggian, 2019. "Naturalization and the productivity of foreign-born doctorates," Journal of Geographical Systems, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 533-556, December.
    4. Lin, Gary C., 2019. "High-skilled immigration and native task specialization in U.S. cities," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 289-305.
    5. Stuhler, Jan & Jaeger, David & Ruist, Joakim, 2018. "Shift-Share Instruments and the Impact of Immigration," CEPR Discussion Papers 12701, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Bächli, Mirjam & Tsankova, Teodora, 2020. "Free Movement of Workers and Native Demand for Tertiary Education," Other publications TiSEM 33968781-3521-459e-86c9-f, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    7. Bachli, Mirjam & Tsankova, Teodora, 2020. "Free movement of workers and native demand for tertiary education," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 515, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    8. Anelli, Massimo & Shih, Kevin Y. & Williams, Kevin, 2017. "Foreign Peer Effects and STEM Major Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 10743, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. John V. Winters, 2017. "Do Native STEM Graduates Increase Innovation? Evidence from U.S. Metropolitan Areas," Economics Working Paper Series 1714, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
    10. Brunello, Giorgio & Lodigiani, Elisabetta & Rocco, Lorenzo, 2017. "Does Low Skilled Immigration Cause Human Capital Polarization? Evidence from Italian Provinces," IZA Discussion Papers 11062, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Papageorgiou, Athanasios, 2018. "The Effect of Immigration on the Well-Being of Native Populations: Evidence from the United Kingdom," MPRA Paper 93045, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Han, Luyi & Winters, John V., 2020. "Industry Fluctuations and College Major Choices: Evidence from an Energy Boom and Bust," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    13. Bächli, Mirjam & Teodora Tsankova, 2020. "Free Movement of Workers and Native Demand for Tertiary Education," Economics Working Paper Series 2019, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    college major; STEM; immigration; occupation; crowd out;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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