Measuring the Effect of Low-Skilled Workers on Innovation
Harris, Rachel Ann
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While the effects of high-skilled immigration and labour on an economy have been well studied, the effects of low-skilled immigrants have not. In particu- lar, this effect is presumed to be negative. This Dissertation seeks to examine the relationship between low-skilled immigration and innovation and in par- ticular, patenting behaviour. In the first study, I provide novel empirical evidence to show how the Mariel Boatlift, an exogenous influx of low-skilled labour to south Florida, had an economically and statistically significant im- pact on individual patenting behaviour. I argue that this is because following the influx of low-skilled immigration, high-skilled inventors are now able to hire these low-skilled immigrants to help them with domestic work. This allows the individual inventors to free up their time and spend more time inventing, and thus we see an increase in individual patenting. My second study aims to see if these results hold in difference circumstances. I chose to look to the share of low-skilled immigrants in a city and whether this share affects individual patenting levels across time. However, I do not find that there is an effect. Finally, my third study provides a theoretical backing for the mechanism I argue in my first study.