Highly-Educated Immigrants and Native Occupational Choice
Economic debate about the consequences of immigration in the US has largely focused on how influxes of foreign-born labor with little educational attainment have affected similarly-educated native-born workers. Surprisingly few studies, however, 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 the presence of highly-educated foreign-born workers by choosing new occupations with different skill content. We find that 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. Native employees leave occupations with a high proportion of highlyeducated immigrants for occupations with less analytical and more communicative content. For completeness, we also assess whether immigration causes highly-educated natives to lose their jobs or move across state boundaries. We no evidence that the former occurs, but mixed evidence for the latter response.
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