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Computerization and Immigration: Theory and Evidence from the United States

Author

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  • Gaetano Basso
  • Giovanni Peri
  • Ahmed Rahman

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gaetano Basso & Giovanni Peri & Ahmed Rahman, 2017. "Computerization and Immigration: Theory and Evidence from the United States," NBER Working Papers 23935, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23935
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Ability-Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 469-497.
    3. 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, November.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2017. "Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 23285, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Fabio Cerina & Alessio Moro & Michelle Petersen Rendall, 2016. "The Role of Gender in Employment Polarization," Discussion Papers 1704, Centre for Macroeconomics (CFM), revised Jan 2017.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gouranga Gopal Das & Sugata Marjit, 2018. "Skill, Innovation and Wage Inequality: Can Immigrants be the Trump Card?," CESifo Working Paper Series 7082, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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