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Immigration, Trade and Productivity in Services: Evidence from U.K. Firms

Listed author(s):
  • Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano
  • Giovanni Peri
  • Greg C. Wright

This paper explores the impact of immigrants on the imports, exports and productivity of service-producing firms in the U.K. Immigrants may substitute for imported intermediate inputs (offshore production) and they may impact the productivity of the firm as well as its export behavior. The first effect can be understood as the re-assignment of offshore productive tasks to immigrant workers. The second can be seen as a productivity or cost cutting effect due to immigration, and the third as the effect of immigrants on specific bilateral trade costs. We test the predictions of our model using differences in immigrant inflows across U.K. labor markets, instrumented with an enclave-based instrument that distinguishes between aggregate and bilateral immigration, as well as immigrant diversity. We find that immigrants increase overall productivity in service-producing firms, revealing a cost cutting impact on these firms. Immigrants also reduce the extent of country-specific offshoring, consistent with a reallocation of tasks and, finally, they increase country-specific exports, implying an important role in reducing communication and trade costs for services.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 21200.

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Date of creation: May 2015
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21200
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  1. Genc, Murat & Gheasi, Masood & Nijkamp, Peter & Poot, Jacques, 2011. "The Impact of Immigration on International Trade: A Meta-Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 6145, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri & Greg C. Wright, 2013. "Immigration, Offshoring, and American Jobs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(5), pages 1925-1959, August.
  3. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 105-130, Summer.
  4. Alberto Alesina & Johann Harnoss & Hillel Rapoport, 2016. "Birthplace diversity and economic prosperity," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 101-138, June.
  5. Mette Foged & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Immigrants' Effect on Native Workers: New Analysis on Longitudinal Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 1-34, April.
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  10. Francesco D'Amuri & Giovanni Peri, 2014. "Immigration, Jobs, And Employment Protection: Evidence From Europe Before And During The Great Recession," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 432-464, 04.
  11. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2003. "Wages and Employment in the United States and Germany: What Explains the Differences?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 573-602, June.
  12. Trax, Michaela & Brunow, Stephan & Suedekum, Jens, 2015. "Cultural diversity and plant-level productivity," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 85-96.
  13. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Grossmann, Volker & Kohler, Wilhelm, 2012. "Migration, International Trade and Capital Formation: Cause or Effect?," IZA Discussion Papers 6975, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Christian Dustmann & Tommaso Frattini & Ian P. Preston, 2013. "The Effect of Immigration along the Distribution of Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(1), pages 145-173.
  15. Gene M. Grossman & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2008. "Trading Tasks: A Simple Theory of Offshoring," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1978-1997, December.
  16. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2005. "Changes in U.S. Wages, 19762000: Ongoing Skill Bias or Major Technological Change?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(3), pages 609-648, July.
  17. Paul Beaudry & Mark Doms & Ethan Lewis, 2010. "Should the Personal Computer Be Considered a Technological Revolution? Evidence from U.S. Metropolitan Areas," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(5), pages 988-1036.
  18. Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2006. "The economic value of cultural diversity: evidence from US cities," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(1), pages 9-44, January.
  19. Peri, Giovanni & Sparber, Chad, 2011. "Assessing inherent model bias: An application to native displacement in response to immigration," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 82-91, January.
  20. Breinlich, Holger & Criscuolo, Chiara, 2011. "International trade in services: A portrait of importers and exporters," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 188-206, July.
  21. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  22. Brian Bell & Francesco Fasani & Stephen Machin, 2013. "Crime and Immigration: Evidence from Large Immigrant Waves," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1278-1290, October.
  23. Leo Kahane & Neil Longley & Robert Simmons, 2013. "The Effects of Coworker Heterogeneity on Firm-Level Output: Assessing the Impacts of Cultural and Language Diversity in the National Hockey League," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 302-314, March.
  24. 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.
  25. Francesco Caselli & Wilbur John Coleman II, 2006. "The World Technology Frontier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 499-522, June.
  26. Giovanni Peri & Kevin Shih & Chad Sparber, 2015. "STEM Workers, H-1B Visas, and Productivity in US Cities," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(S1), pages 225-255.
  27. Bartel, Ann P, 1989. "Where Do the New U.S. Immigrants Live?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 7(4), pages 371-391, October.
  28. Ortega, Francesc & Peri, Giovanni, 2014. "Openness and income: The roles of trade and migration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 231-251.
  29. James E. Rauch & Vitor Trindade, 2002. "Ethnic Chinese Networks In International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 116-130, February.
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