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Foreign and Native Skilled Workers: What Can We Learn from H-1B Lotteries?

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  • Giovanni Peri
  • Kevin Shih
  • Chad Sparber

Abstract

In April of 2007 and 2008, the U.S. randomly allocated 65,000 H-1B temporary work permits to foreign-born skilled workers. About 88,000 requests for computer-related H-1B permits were declined in each of those two years. This paper exploits random H-1B variation across U.S. cities to analyze how these supply shocks affected labor market outcomes for computer-related workers. We find that negative H-1B supply shocks are robustly associated with declines in foreign-born computer-related employment, while native-born computer employment either falls or remains constant. Most of the correlation between H-1B supply shocks and foreign employment is due to rationing that varies with a city's initial dependence upon H-1B workers. Variation in random, lottery-driven, unexpected shocks is too small to identify significant effects on foreign employment in the full sample of cities. However, we do find that random rationing affects foreign employment in cities that are highly dependent upon the H-1B program. Altogether, the results support the existence of complementarities between native and foreign-born H-1B computer workers.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21175
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen G. Dimmock & Jiekun Huang & Scott J. Weisbenner, 2022. "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your High-Skilled Labor: H-1B Lottery Outcomes and Entrepreneurial Success," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 68(9), pages 6950-6970, September.
    2. Morgan Raux, 2019. "Looking for the "Best and Brightest": Hiring difficulties and high-skilled foreign workers," Working Papers halshs-02364921, HAL.
    3. Dicarlo, Emanuele, 2022. "How Do Firms Adjust to Negative Labor Supply Shocks? Evidence from Migration Outflows," IZA Discussion Papers 14994, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Sparber, Chad, 2019. "Substitution between groups of highly-educated, foreign-born, H-1B workers," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C).
    5. 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.
    6. Sara Signorelli, 2020. "Do Skilled Migrants Compete with Native Workers? Analysis of a Selective Immigration Policy," Working Papers halshs-01983071, HAL.
    7. Gaurav Khanna & Munseob Lee, 2019. "High-Skill Immigration, Innovation, and Creative Destruction," NBER Chapters, in: The Roles of Immigrants and Foreign Students in US Science, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, pages 73-98, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Clemens, Michael A., 2017. "The Effect of Occupational Visas on Native Employment: Evidence from Labor Supply to Farm Jobs in the Great Recession," IZA Discussion Papers 10492, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Delia Furtado, 2019. "Settling for Academia?: H-1B Visas and the Career Choices of International Students in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 54(2), pages 401-429.
    10. Andreas Beerli & Jan Ruffner & Michael Siegenthaler & Giovanni Peri, 2021. "The Abolition of Immigration Restrictions and the Performance of Firms and Workers: Evidence from Switzerland," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 111(3), pages 976-1012, March.
    11. 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.
    12. Michael A. Clemens, 2022. "The effect of seasonal work visas on native employment: Evidence from US farm work in the Great Recession," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(5), pages 1348-1374, November.
    13. John Bound & Gaurav Khanna & Nicolas Morales, 2017. "Understanding the Economic Impact of the H-1B Program on the United States," NBER Chapters, in: High-Skilled Migration to the United States and Its Economic Consequences, pages 109-175, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. John Bound & Gaurav Khanna & Nicolas Morales, 2017. "Understanding the Economic Impact of the H-1B Program on the U.S," NBER Working Papers 23153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Emanuele Dicarlo, 2022. "How do firms adjust to a negative labor supply shock? Evidence form migration outflows," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 1361, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    16. Prithwiraj Choudhury & Kirk Doran & Astrid Marinoni & Chungeun Yoon, 2022. "Loss of Peers and Individual Worker Performance: Evidence from H-1B Visa Denials," CESifo Working Paper Series 10152, CESifo.
    17. Mehra, Mishita & Kim, Daisoon, 2023. "Skilled immigration, offshoring, and trade," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 146(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General

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