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From Labor to Cash Flow? The Abolition of Immigration Restrictions and the Performance of Swiss Firms

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Abstract

What is the effect of opening the labor market to foreign workers on the success of firms? We address this question by analyzing how firms in Switzerland were affected by the introduction of the free movement of persons with the European Union (EU) countries. This immigration reform granted all EU workers free access to the Swiss labor market. Our firm-level panel data models exploit the exceptional facts that the reform incidentally affected firms at different time periods and had a stronger effect on firmsclosetotheborder. We find that the Reform increased employment, skill intensity, and sales of incumbent firms, especially for those that relied heavily on foreign workers and had reported that they suffered from skill shortages before the reform. In these firms, the reform also increased labor productivity. We explain these effects through the higher innovation performance of incumbent firms and the reallocation of economic activity into highly affected regions, as evidenced by the entry of new establishments and by the changes in establishment size within multi-establishment firms.

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  • Jan Ruffner & Michael Siegenthaler, 2016. "From Labor to Cash Flow? The Abolition of Immigration Restrictions and the Performance of Swiss Firms," KOF Working papers 16-424, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:kof:wpskof:16-424
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3929/ethz-a-010821915
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    1. Michael Gerfin & Boris Kaiser, 2010. "The Effects of Immigration on Wages: An Application of the Structural Skill-Cell Approach," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 146(IV), pages 709-739, December.
    2. Michael Graff & Massimo Mannino & Michael Siegenthaler, 2014. "The Swiss "Job Miracle"," KOF Working papers 14-368, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    3. Giovanni Peri & Kevin Shih & Chad Sparber, 2015. "Foreign and Native Skilled Workers: What Can We Learn from H-1B Lotteries?," NBER Working Papers 21175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Pierpaolo Parrotta & Dario Pozzoli & Mariola Pytlikova, 2014. "The nexus between labor diversity and firm’s innovation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 27(2), pages 303-364, April.
    5. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, March.
    6. Andreas Beerli & Giovanni Peri, 2015. "The Labor Market Effects of Opening the Border: Evidence from Switzerland," NBER Working Papers 21319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2010. "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and U.S. Ethnic Invention," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 473-508, July.
    8. Bosetti, Valentina & Cattaneo, Cristina & Verdolini, Elena, 2015. "Migration of skilled workers and innovation: A European Perspective," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 311-322.
    9. Fabio Beniamino Losa & Maurizio Bigotta & Gonzalez Oscar, 2014. "La libre circulation: joies ou douleurs?," Post-Print halshs-01182921, HAL.
    10. William R. Kerr, 2013. "U.S. High-Skilled Immigration, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Empirical Approaches and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 19377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. William W. Olney, 2013. "Immigration And Firm Expansion," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 142-157, February.
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