Department of Economics Fall 2017 Seminar Series

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Date(s) - 10/13/2017
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

BSB 103, Behavioral Sciences Building

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This week’s speaker is Patrick Turner. Turner is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Economics at the University of Colorado Boulder and a graduate student affiliate in the Population Center, Institute of Behavioral Science.  He earned his M.A. from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2014, and B.S. in Business Administration with concentrations in Economics and Finance from Saint Louis University in 2009.  His research is in the fields of labor and development and focuses on the intersection of policy and the labor market.  His dissertation explores the effects of immigration policy and health insurance policy on U.S. labor markets.  Additionally, he works on policy evaluations for programs in rural Bangladesh and the State of Colorado.

Turner is presenting his paper “High-Skill Immigration and the Labor Market: Evidence from the H-1B Visa Program”


Increasing the size of the STEM workforce has been a key strategy to maintain the economic competitiveness and growth of the U.S. economy. Changes to temporary visa programs, such as increasing the annual cap on the H-1B, can increase the number of STEM workers, but surprisingly little is known about the labor market impact of this policy. I adapt a straight-forward model of the labor market, yielding the prediction that the relative wages of STEM majors should fall as additional high-skilled immigrants enter. Using data from the 2010–2012 American Community Survey, I investigate the effect that immigration has on the wages of college-educated natives. Because the endogenous presence of immigrants confounds OLS estimation, I construct an instrument by leveraging changes in the annual cap of H-1B visas combined with the fact that visa recipients are more likely to be STEM majors. The relative wages of native workers who experience large immigrant shocks fall. I find that STEM wage premium fell 4–12 percent because of immigration from 1990–2010.