Highly Educated Immigrants and Native Occupational Choice

27 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2011

See all articles by Giovanni Peri

Giovanni Peri

University of California, Davis - Department of Economics

Chad Sparber

Colgate University - Economics Department

Date Written: July 2011

Abstract

Economic debate about the consequences of immigration in the United States has largely focused on how influxes of foreign‐born labor with little educational attainment have affected similarly educated native‐born workers. Fewer studies analyze the effect of immigration within the market for highly educated labor. We use O*NET data on job characteristics to assess whether native‐born workers with graduate degrees respond to an increased presence of highly educated foreign‐born workers by choosing new occupations with different skill content. We find that highly educated native and foreign‐born workers are imperfect substitutes. Immigrants with graduate degrees specialize in occupations demanding quantitative and analytical skills, whereas their native‐born counterparts specialize in occupations requiring interactive and communication skills. When the foreign‐born proportion of highly educated employment within an occupation rises, native employees with graduate degrees choose new occupations with less analytical and more communicative content.

Keywords: J61, J31, F22

Suggested Citation

Peri, Giovanni and Sparber, Chad, Highly Educated Immigrants and Native Occupational Choice (July 2011). Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Vol. 50, Issue 3, pp. 385-411, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1874552 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-232X.2011.00643.x

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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