Ongoing since 2011

Principal Investigator: Sari Pekkala Kerr, Ph.D.

This project will examine the role of firms in shaping high-skilled immigration to the United States. In particular, we exploit the combined employer - employee data of the most prominent US high tech firms to evaluate the extent to which foreign born science and engineering workers are employed, and how the work force composition is affected by the inflows of immigrant scientists. This research is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation


Working with co-principal investigator, William Kerr, Ph.D., associate professor, Harvard Business School, Sari Pekkala Kerr, Ph.D., will lead a project to examine the role of firms in shaping high-skilled immigration to the United States. The investigators seek to understand how high-tech firms utilize immigrant scientists and engineers relative to comparable native workers, and to determine what effects this has on careers of aging domestic workers. The study uses immigration theory to characterize the role of firms and offer guidance on the econometric techniques required to evaluate immigration in a firm context. Utilizing micro-level data sets from the U.S. Census Bureau along with information on U.S. patents granted to firms, the investigators create a unique data platform for the study. The study examines whether immigration could be a factor in the lagging wage growth of the high-tech sector over the past two decades. Additionally, the project tests the suggested link between immigration and age discrimination, as proposed by some opponents of the H-1B visa program. The results will be of significant importance for the public discussion of immigration as well as for the design of immigration programs and policies.