HKS Authors

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Abstract

Job selection by high-skilled foreign-born workers in the US correlates strongly with country of origin. We use a Fréchet-Roy model of occupational choice to evaluate the causes of immigrant sorting. We find that revealed comparative advantage in the US is stronger for workers from countries with higher education quality in occupations that are more intensive in cognitive reasoning, and for workers from countries that are more linguistically similar to the US in occupations that are more intensive in communication. Our findings hold for immigrants who arrived in the US at age 18 or older (who received their K-12 education abroad) but not for immigrants who arrived in the US as children (who received their K-12 education domestically). We obtain similar results for immigrant sorting in Canada, consistent with origin-country education quality, rather than US immigration policy, being what drives sorting patterns.

Citation

Hanson, Gordon, and Chen Liu. "Immigration and occupational comparative advantage." Journal of International Economics 145 (November 2023): 103809.