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Computerization and Immigration: Theory and Evidence from the United States

Listed author(s):
  • Gaetano Basso
  • Giovanni Peri
  • Ahmed Rahman

The changes in technology that took place in the US during the last three decades, mainly due to the introduction of computerization and automation, have been characterized as “routine-substituting.” They have reduced the demand for routine tasks, but have increased the demand for analytical tasks. Indirectly they have also increased the demand for manual tasks and service oriented occupations. Little is known about how these changes have impacted immigration, or task specialization between immigrants and natives. In this paper we show that such technological progress has attracted skilled and unskilled immigrants, with the latter group increasingly specialized in manual-service occupations. We also show that the immigration response has helped to reduce the polarization of employment for natives. We explain these facts with a model of technological progress and endogenous immigration. Simulations show that immigration in the presence of technological change attenuates the drop in routine employment and the increase in service employment for natives.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23935.

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Date of creation: Oct 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23935
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  1. Rebecca Diamond, 2016. "The Determinants and Welfare Implications of US Workers' Diverging Location Choices by Skill: 1980-2000," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 479-524, March.
  2. Timothy J. Bartik, 1991. "Who Benefits from State and Local Economic Development Policies?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number wbsle, December.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2017. "Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 23285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Michael A. Clemens & Ethan G. Lewis & Hannah M. Postel, 2017. "Immigration Restrictions as Active Labor Market Policy: Evidence from the Mexican Bracero Exclusion," NBER Working Papers 23125, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2016. "The Race Between Machine and Man: Implications of Technology for Growth, Factor Shares and Employment," NBER Working Papers 22252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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