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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano Development Studies Working Paper
Title Task Specialisation, Immigration and Wages
Author(s)
Issue 252
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2008
URL https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/31314/1/592407349.pdf
Abstract
Many workers with low levels of educational attainment immigrated to the United States
in recent decades. Large inflows of less educated immigrants would reduce wages paid to
comparably-educated native-born workers if the two groups are perfectly substitutable in
production. In a simple model exploiting comparative advantage, however, 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 dataset 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. Immigration induces natives
to specialize accordingly. Simulations show that this increased specialization might explain
why economic analyses commonly find only modest wage and employment consequences of
immigration for less educated native-born workers across US states.

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