Flight of the H-1b: Inter-Firm Mobility and Return Migration Patterns for Skilled Guest Workers

44 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2013

See all articles by Briggs Depew

Briggs Depew

University of Arizona - Department of Economics

Peter Norlander

Loyola University Chicago, Quinlan School of Business, Department of Management

Todd Sorensen

University of Arizona - Department of Economics

Abstract

Critics of the H-1B program for high-skilled workers argue that the program restricts immigrant job mobility and lacks a vehicle for adjusting the number of visas during a recession. We study the job mobility of highly-skilled Indian IT guest workers and provide new evidence on their inter-firm mobility and return migration patterns.We use a unique multi-year firm level dataset to show that, outside of the Great Recession, these workers are mobile and that lower paid guest workers are more likely than higher paid guest workers to separate to another firm in the U.S. We also analyze return migration decisions and find that low wage workers repatriate more than high wage workers, and that this relationship intensified during the Great Recession. This partially mitigates concerns that guest worker visa programs do not adjust to fluctuations in the macro economy. Following this finding, we show that the employment to population ratio (EPOP) for highly-skilled male workers has fallen at a much steeper rate since 2008 than is typically recognized, once we account for the phenomenon of discouraged immigrants.

Keywords: skilled migration, labor market frictions, business cycles

JEL Classification: F22, J42, E32

Suggested Citation

Depew, Briggs and Norlander, Peter and Sorensen, Todd, Flight of the H-1b: Inter-Firm Mobility and Return Migration Patterns for Skilled Guest Workers. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2287066 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2287066

Briggs Depew (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Economics ( email )

McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States

Peter Norlander

Loyola University Chicago, Quinlan School of Business, Department of Management ( email )

16 East Pearson St
Suite 713
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-915-6615 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.luc.edu/quinlan/faculty/peternorlander.shtml

Todd Sorensen

University of Arizona - Department of Economics ( email )

McClelland Hall
Tucson, AZ 85721-0108
United States

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