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The Effects of Immigration on Wages: An Application of the Structural Skill-Cell Approach

Listed author(s):
  • Michael Gerfin
  • Boris Kaiser

This paper investigates how recent immigration inflows from 2002 to 2008 have affected wages in Switzerland. This period is of particular interest as it marks the time during which the bilateral agreement with the EU on the free cross-border movement of workers has been effective. Since different types of workers are likely to be unevenly affected by recent immigration inflows, we follow the "structural skill-cell approach". This paper provides two main contributions. First, we estimate empirically the elasticities of substitution between different types of workers in Switzerland. Our results suggest that natives and immigrants are imperfect substitutes. Regarding different skill levels, the estimates indicate that workers are imperfect substitutes across broad education groups and across different experience groups. Second, the estimated elasticities of substitution are used to simulate the impact on domestic wages using the actual immigration inflows from 2002 to 2008. For the long run, the simulations produce some notable distributional consequences across different types of workers: While previous immigrants incur wage losses (-1.6%), native workers are not negatively affected on average (+0.4%). In the short run, immigration has a negative macroeconomic effect on the average wage, which, however, gradually dies out in the process of capital adjustment.

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File URL: http://www.vwl.unibe.ch/wp-content/uploads/papers/dp/dp1012.pdf
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Paper provided by Universitaet Bern, Departement Volkswirtschaft in its series Diskussionsschriften with number dp1012.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
Handle: RePEc:ube:dpvwib:dp1012
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  1. Marco Manacorda & Alan Manning & Jonathan Wadsworth, 2006. "The impact of immigration on the structure of male wages: theory and evidence from Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19797, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Michael Gerfin & Boris Kaiser, 2010. "The Effects of Immigration on Wages: An Application of the Structural Skill-Cell Approach," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 146(IV), pages 709-739, December.
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  17. George J. Borjas & Lawrence F. Katz, 2007. "The Evolution of the Mexican-Born Workforce in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 13-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  19. Caselli, Francesco & Esquivel, Gerardo & Lefort, Fernando, 1996. "Reopening the Convergence Debate: A New Look at Cross-Country Growth Empirics," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 363-389, September.
  20. 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.
  21. Nazrul Islam, 2003. "What have We Learnt from the Convergence Debate?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(3), pages 309-362, 07.
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  23. John P. Haisken-DeNew & Klaus F. Zimmermann, "undated". "Native Wage Impacts of Foreign Labor," Working Papers 9408, SELAPO Center for Human Resources.
  24. LaLonde, Robert J & Topel, Robert H, 1991. "Immigrants in the American Labor Market: Quality, Assimilation, and Distributional Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(2), pages 297-302, May.
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