Immigration, Wages, and Education: A Labor Market Equilibrium Structural Model

Recent literature analyzing wage effects of immigration assumes labor supply is fixed across education-experience cells. This paper departs from this assumption estimating a labor market equilibrium dynamic discrete choice model on U.S. micro-data for 1967–2007. Individuals adjust to immigration by changing education, participation, and/or occupation. Adjustments are heterogeneous: 4.2–26.2% of prime-aged native males change their careers; of them, some switch to white collar careers and increase education by about three years; others reduce labor market attachment and reduce education also by about three years. These adjustments mitigate initial effects on wages and inequality. Natives that are more similar to immigrants are the most affected on impact, but also have a larger margin to adjust and differentiate. Adjustments also produce a self-selection bias in the estimation of wage effects at the lower tail of the distribution, which the model corrects.

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