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Rethinking the effects of immigration on wages

  • Ottaviano, Gianmarco I. P.
  • Peri, Giovanni

This paper asks the following important question: what was the effect of surging immigration on average and individual wages of U.S.-born workers during the period 1990-2004? Building on section VI I of Borjas (2003) we emphasize the need for a general equilibrium approach to analyze this problem. The impact of immigrants on wages of US born workers can be evaluated only by accounting carefully for labor market and capital market interactions in production. Using such a general equilibrium approach we estimate that immigrants are imperfect substitutes for U.S.-born workers within the same education and experience group (because they choose different occupations and have different skills). Moreover, accounting for reasonable speed of adjustment of physical capital we show that most of the wage effects of immigration accrue to native workers already within a decade. These two facts, overlooked by the previous literature, imply a positive and significant effect of the 1990-2004 immigration on the average wage of U.S.-born workers overall, both in the short and in the long run. This positive average effect resulted from a positive effect on wages of all US-born workers with at least a high school degree and a small negative effect on wages of U.S born workers with no high school degree.

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Paper provided by Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI) in its series HWWI Research Papers with number 3-8.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:hwwirp:3-8
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  1. Joshua D. Angrist, 1995. "The Economic Returns to Schooling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," Working papers 95-5, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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  3. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 2006. "A Dual Policy Paradox: Why Have Trade and Immigration Policies Always Differed in Labour-Scarce Economies?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5443, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  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. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Trends in U. S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2095, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  25. Grossman, Jean Baldwin, 1982. "The Substitutability of Natives and Immigrants in Production," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(4), pages 596-603, November.
  26. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2004. "Long-run substitutability between more and less educated workers: Evidence from U.S. States 1950-1990," Economics Working Papers 764, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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  28. Christian Dustmann & Ian Preston & Francesca Fabbri, 2004. "Racial Harassment, Ethnic Concentration and Economic Conditions," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0405, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
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