Task Specialisation, Immigration and Wages
56 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2009
Date Written: June 1, 2008
Many workers with low levels of educational attainment immigrated to the United States in recent decades. In a simple model exploiting comparative advantage we show that if less-educated foreign and native-born workers specialize in performing different tasks, immigration will cause natives to reallocate their task supply, thereby reducing downward wage pressure. We merge occupational task-intensity data from the O*NET and DOT data sets with individual Census data across US states from 1960-2000 to demonstrate that foreign-born workers specialize in occupations that require manual and physical labor skills while natives pursue jobs more intensive in communication and language tasks. This increased specialization might explain why economic analyzes commonly find only modest wage and employment consequences of immigration for less-educated native-born workers across U.S. states.
Keywords: Immigration, Less-Educated Labor, Manual Tasks, Communication Skills, Comparative
JEL Classification: F22, J61, J31, R13
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