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Inter-Firm Mobility and Return Migration Patterns of Skilled Guest Workers

Briggs Depew, Peter Norlander () and Todd Sorensen ()

Departmental Working Papers from Department of Economics, Louisiana State University

Abstract: Critics of U.S. high-skilled guest worker visa programs argue that 1) program regulations tie workers to their sponsoring firm, creating working conditions akin to indentured servitude and that 2) the pro- grams lack a vehicle for adjusting downward the number of visas avail- able during a recession. We address these two criticisms using unique payroll data from firms that rely upon these programs. Contrary to popular belief, we find that the guest workers in our sample exhibit a significant amount of inter-firm mobility that varies over both the earn- ings distribution and the business cycle. This suggests that, despite regulatory frictions of the visa programs, competitive pressures are a driving force in this labor market. Furthermore, we find evidence of increased return migration during periods of high unemployment. This is especially true for lower paid workers, suggesting positive selection.

Date: 2014-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-bec, nep-lab and nep-mig
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Journal Article: Inter-firm mobility and return migration patterns of skilled guest workers (2017) Downloads
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