Task Specialisation, Immigration and Wages

56 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2009

See all articles by Giovanni Peri

Giovanni Peri

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics

Chad Sparber

Colgate University - Economics Department

Date Written: June 1, 2008

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Peri, Giovanni and Sparber, Chad, Task Specialisation, Immigration and Wages (June 1, 2008). Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano Development Studies Working Paper No. 252. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1368863 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1368863

Giovanni Peri (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics ( email )

One Shields Drive
Davis, CA 95616-8578
United States
530-752-3033 (Phone)
530-752-9382 (Fax)

Chad Sparber

Colgate University - Economics Department ( email )

13 Oak Drive
Hamilton, NY 13346
United States

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