Do Foreigners Crowd Natives Out of STEM Degrees and Occupations? Evidence From the US Immigration Act of 1990
Ransom, Tyler, and John V. Winters. 2021
Industrial and Labor Relations Review 74(2): 321-351.
The US Immigration Act of 1990 increased the inflow of foreign STEM workers in the United States. The analysis shows that the Act caused black male students to move away from STEM majors; white male STEM graduates moved away from STEM occupations; and white female STEM graduates moved out of the workforce.
This article examines effects of the US Immigration Act of 1990 on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education and labor market outcomes for native-born Americans. The Act increased the inflow and stock of foreign STEM workers in the United States, potentially altering the relative desirability of STEM fields for natives. The authors examine effects of the policy on STEM degree completion, STEM occupational choice, and employment rates separately for black and white men and women. The novel identification strategy measures exposure to foreign STEM workers of age 18 native cohorts immediately before and after the policy change via geographic dispersion of foreign-born STEM workers in 1980, which predicts subsequent foreign STEM flows. The Act affected natives in three ways: 1) black male students moved away from STEM majors; 2) white male STEM graduates moved away from STEM occupations; and 3) white female STEM graduates moved out of the workforce.