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Rethinking the Area Approach: Immigrants and the Labor Market in California, 1960-2005

  • Giovanni Peri

I show that a CES production-function-based approach with skill differentiation and integrated national labor markets has predictions for the employment effect of immigrants at the local level. The model predicts that if I look at the employment (rather than wage) response by skill to immigration in a state, I can estimate the substitutability-complementarity between natives and immigrants. This allows me to infer, other things constant, how immigrants stimulate or depress the demand for native labor. I also use a novel instrument based on demographic characteristics of total Central American migrants or of the Mexican Population to predict immigration by skill level within California. Looking at immigration to California between 1960 and 2005 my estimates support the assumption of a nationally integrated labor market by skill and they support the hypothesis that natives and immigrants in the same education-experience group are not perfectly substitutable. This, in turn, explains the counter-intuitive fact that there is a zero correlation between immigration and wage and employment outcomes of natives.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16217.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Publication status: published as Rethinking the Area Approach: Immigrants and the Labor Market in California, 1960-2005” Journal of International Economics, Vol. 84 (1) pp. 1-14.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16217
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  1. George J. Borjas, 2005. "Native Internal Migration and the Labor Market Impact of Immigration," NBER Working Papers 11610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
  3. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2004. "Long-run substitutability between more and less educated workers: Evidence from U.S. States 1950-1990," Economics Working Papers 764, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  4. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1335-1374.
  5. David Card & Ethan G. Lewis, 2007. "The Diffusion of Mexican Immigrants During the 1990s: Explanations and Impacts," NBER Chapters, in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 193-228 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Card, David, 2001. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 22-64, January.
  7. John DiNardo & David Card, 2000. "Do Immigrant Inflows Lead to Native Outflows?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 360-367, May.
  8. David Card, 1989. "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 3069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ethan Lewis, 2005. "Immigration, skill mix, and the choice of technique," Working Papers 05-8, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  10. Giovanni Peri, 2009. "The Effect of Immigration on Productivity: Evidence from US States," NBER Working Papers 15507, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  12. Grossman, Jean Baldwin, 1982. "The Substitutability of Natives and Immigrants in Production," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(4), pages 596-603, November.
  13. David Card, 2009. "Immigration and Inequality," NBER Working Papers 14683, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2008. "Immigration and National Wages: Clarifying the Theory and the Empirics," NBER Working Papers 14188, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2008. "Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0802, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  16. David Card, 2007. "How Immigration Affects U.S. Cities," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0711, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  17. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. David Card & Thomas Lemieux, 2001. "Can Falling Supply Explain the Rising Return to College for Younger Men? A Cohort-Based Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 705-746.
  19. Angrist, Joshua D, 1995. "The Economic Returns to Schooling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1065-87, December.
  20. George J. Borjas & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "The Evolution of the Mexican-Born Workforce in the United States," NBER Working Papers 11281, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Joseph G. Altonji & David Card, 1989. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Natives," NBER Working Papers 3123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Friedman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "How Much Do Immigration and Trade Affect Labor Market Outcomes?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 1-90.
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