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Are Immigrants the Best and Brightest U.S. Engineers?

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  • Jennifer Hunt

Abstract

Using the American Community Surveys of 2009 and 2010, I examine the wages of immigrants compared to natives among engineering workers. Among workers in engineering occupations, immigrants are the best and brightest thanks to their high education level, enjoying a wage distribution shifted to the right of the native distribution. Among workers with an engineering degree, however, immigrants underperform natives, despite somewhat higher education. The gap is particularly large in the lower tail, where immigrants work in occupations not commensurate with their education. In the upper tail, immigrants fail to be promoted out of technical occupations to management, handicapped by imperfect English and their underrepresentation among older age groups. In both samples, immigrants from the highest income countries are the best and brightest workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Jennifer Hunt, 2013. "Are Immigrants the Best and Brightest U.S. Engineers?," NBER Working Papers 18696, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18696
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chiswick, Barry R. & Miller, Paul W., 2008. "Why is the payoff to schooling smaller for immigrants?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 1317-1340, December.
    2. Lofstrom, Magnus & Hayes, Joseph, 2011. "H-1Bs: How Do They Stack Up to US Born Workers?," IZA Discussion Papers 6259, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Akee, Randall K. Q. & Yuksel, Mutlu, 2008. "A Note on Measures of Human Capital for Immigrants: Examining the American Community Survey and New Immigrant Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 3897, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. 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.
    5. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
    6. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2011. "Highly Educated Immigrants and Native Occupational Choice," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 385-411, July.
    7. Abdurrahman Aydemir & Mikal Skuterud, 2005. "Explaining the deteriorating entry earnings of Canada's immigrant cohorts, 1966 - 2000," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(2), pages 641-672, May.
    8. Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, 2007. "Accelerating Decline in America's High-Skilled Workforce: Implications for Immigration Policy," Peterson Institute Press: Policy Analyses in International Economics, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number pa84, January.
    9. Philip Oreopoulos, 2011. "Why Do Skilled Immigrants Struggle in the Labor Market? A Field Experiment with Thirteen Thousand Resumes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 148-171, November.
    10. Joseph Schaafsma & Arthur Sweetman, 2001. "Immigrant earnings: age at immigration matters," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1066-1099, November.
    11. Christian Dustmann & Arthur Van Soest, 2002. "Language and the Earnings of Immigrants," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 473-492, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni & Gianluca Tarasconi, 2014. "Inventor Data for Research on Migration and Innovation: A Survey and a Pilot," WIPO Economic Research Working Papers 17, World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division.
    2. Nathan, Max, 2013. "The Wider Economic Impacts of High-Skilled Migrants: A Survey of the Literature," IZA Discussion Papers 7653, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. repec:wfo:wstudy:60794 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Coccia, Mario, 2014. "Driving forces of technological change: The relation between population growth and technological innovation," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 52-65.
    5. Richard B. Freeman & Hal Salzman, 2017. "Introduction for "U.S. Engineering in a Global Economy"," NBER Chapters,in: U.S. Engineering in a Global Economy, pages 1-9 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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