High-Skilled Immigration in a Globalized Labor Market
About This Event

As the current economic crisis reshapes the global economy, the ability of each country to rebound will ride in part on the competitiveness and creativity of its workforce. Skills in science, technology, and innovation will be an essential determinant of economic growth in the coming decades. Despite this, current U.S. immigration laws are not built around the skills of potential applicants for immigration, but are instead built on family ties to U.S. citizens and resident aliens.

Does our current policy put the United States at a competitive disadvantage? What can we learn from the skill-based policies of other Western democracies? What effect does high-skilled immigration actually have on economic efficiency and labor market performance? Have our current high-skill immigrants put their skills to good use?

At this two-day conference, scholars from across the country and around the world will debate these questions, exploring the value of high-skilled immigration in a globalized labor market. The conference will include the presentation of nine original research papers, a keynote lecture by Laurence Iannaccone, and a panel discussion of U.S. policy toward high-skilled immigrants.

For video and audio of the second day of this conference, please click here.


Wednesday, April 22

Thursday, April 23


Speaker biographies

Stuart Anderson is the executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy. He previously served as executive associate commissioner for policy and planning and counselor to the commissioner at the Immigration and Naturalization Service from August 2001 to January 2003. He spent four and a half years on Capitol Hill working on the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, first for Senator Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.) and then as staff director of the subcommittee for Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kans.). Prior to that, Mr. Anderson was director of trade and immigration studies at the Cato Institute, where he produced reports on the military contributions of immigrants and the role of immigrants in high technology. He has published articles in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications.

Charles Beach is a professor of economics at Queen's University, where he has taught since 1972. He is also the director of the John Deutsch Institute for the Study of Economic Policy at Queen's. He has worked in the areas of income distribution and applied labor market analysis, and his current research areas include Canadian immigration policy and experience and Canadian earnings mobility since 1980. Mr. Beach is the author or editor of thirteen books and many refereed papers and other publications. He was editor of Canadian Public Policy/Analyse de politiques from 1995 to 2002 and has served as an adviser to numerous government departments and research organizations. He was a cofounder of the Canadian Econometric Study Group, a cofounding member of the Canadian Employment Research Forum, and chair of the Data Liberation Initiative at Statistics Canada. He is currently a program director of the Canadian Labour Market and Skills Researcher Network.

Örn Bodvarsson is a professor in the department of economics and chair of the department of management at St. Cloud State University (SCSU). He has been a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor since 2007. From 2001 to 2005, he was a visiting professor of economics at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. His primary area of specialization is the economics of immigration. His research has focused on the distributional effects of immigration in the receiving economy when labor demand is affected by immigrant inflows, the political market for immigration restrictions, internal migration in China, Arab-to-U.S. migration, and discrimination against immigrant workers. In May 2009, Springer will publish his coauthored book, The Economics of Immigration: Theory and Policy, a graduate-level text and handbook and reference for scholars interested in migration issues. Mr. Bodvarsson founded and directed the master of science in applied economics degree program at SCSU and is a past president of the Western Social Science and Minnesota Economic Associations. He has received numerous awards for his teaching at SCSU, the University of Nebraska, and other universities.

Steven A. Camarota has been the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies since 1996. His areas of expertise are economics and demographics. Mr. Camarota has testified before Congress, and his articles on the impact of immigration have appeared in both academic publications and the popular press, including Social Science Quarterly, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, National Review, and Campaigns and Elections. He appears frequently on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, NBC's Nightly News, and ABC's World News.

Barry R. Chiswick is a distinguished professor in the department of economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago and program director for migration studies at the Institute for the Study of Labor. He is a former president of the European Society for Population Economics and a former chair of the American Statistical Association Census Advisory Committee. His primary area of research for the past three decades has been on various aspects of international migration, the economics of language, and the economics of minorities. His 1978 Journal of Political Economy article, "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign Born Men," is recognized as seminal. Two of his most recent books are The Economics of Immigration (Edward Elgar, 2005) and, coauthored with Paul W. Miller, The Economics of Language: International Analyses (Routledge, 2007). In addition to numerous print and electronic media interviews on immigration issues and policies, he has provided testimony to both the U.S House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and to the UK House of Lords. He has received numerous awards for his research on immigration and racial and ethnic minorities. Mr. Chiswick edited two previous conference volumes on immigration for AEI: The Gateway: U.S. Immigration Issues and Policies (AEI Press, 1982) and Immigration, Language, and Ethnicity: Canada and the United States (AEI Press, 1992).

Carmel U. Chiswick, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is a development economist and a labor economist. Previously, she worked as an economist at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the World Bank. She frequently presents her research to academic conferences and community groups, has held several visiting appointments at universities in the United States and in Israel, and is a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor. Her research in labor and economic demography includes studies of household work, family formation, and the impacts of immigration. Her research on economic development deals with problems related to employment and education, especially in Thailand, and with systems of household and labor force statistics. Her recent work focuses on the economics of religion, especially as it applies to the American Jewish family, to Jewish religious observance, and to American Jewish communal institutions.

Sarit Cohen-Goldner is a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University. Her main areas of research are the economics of migration, labor economics, and econometrics. She has previously held teaching appointments at Boston University and Tel Aiv University and is currently a member of the Young Scientists Forum at the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. Her research has been published in numerous academic journals, including Economic Quarterly, the International Economic Review, the Journal of Population Economics, and the Journal of Econometrics.

Joseph Ferrie is a professor of economics and history at Northwestern University and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He is the author of Yankeys Now: Immigrants in the Antebellum U.S., 1840-1860 (Oxford University Press, 1999). His research on the mobility of immigrants and the native-born in the United States has appeared in The Journal of Economic History, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, The American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, and Research in Labor Economics. He pioneered the creation of large, nationally representative longitudinal datasets through the linkage of census manuscripts from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

David Frum is a resident fellow at AEI. A former special assistant to President George W. Bush for economic speechwriting (2001-2002), Mr. Frum is a regular commentator on American Public Media's Marketplace program and writes weekly columns for The Week, Canada's National Post, and Italy's Il Foglio. From 2003 to 2009, his daily diary appeared on National Review Online. He now edits the NewMajority.com website. He is the author of six books, including two New York Times bestsellers: The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush (Random House, 2003) and An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, with Richard Perle (Random House, 2004). His newest book is Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again, published by Doubleday on December 31, 2007, and released in paperback in January 2009. The Daily Telegraph's 2007 survey named Mr. Frum one of America's fifty most influential conservatives. Judge Richard Posner's 2000 survey listed him as one of America's one hundred most cited public intellectuals.

Ira Gang is a professor of economics at Rutgers University. He publishes papers on development, migration and public policy, public choice, political economy, and labor economics in leading economics journals. He was one of the founding editors of the Review of Development Economics and is an associate editor and editorial board member of several journals, including the Journal of Population Economics and the Indian Growth and Development Review. He is a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor and several other academic institutes.

Volker Grossmann holds the chair for Macroeconomics, Growth, and Industrial Policy at the University of Fribourg. He is also a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor and a research affiliate at the CESifo Group. Previously, he was an assistant professor at the University of Zurich. His main fields of research include human capital formation, international mobility of labor and capital, innovation and growth, distribution and growth, development economics, and taxation of capital and estates. He has published in numerous academic journals, including the Journal of Economic Growth, the European Economic Review, the Journal of Macroeconomics, the International Journal of Industrial Organization, the Journal of Economic Psychology, and Oxford Economic Papers.

James Hollifield is a professor of international political economy and director of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University. He has previously held faculty appointments at Auburn, Brandeis, and Duke Universities. In 1992, he was associate director of research at the Conseil National de la Recherche Scientifique and the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales of the Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques in Paris. From 1986 to 1992, he was a research associate at Harvard University's Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies and cochair of the French study group, and in 1991–92, he was an associate at Harvard's Center for International Affairs. He has worked as a consultant for the U.S. government, as well as several organizations, including the United Nations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Mr. Hollifield has been the recipient of grants from private foundations and government agencies, including the Social Science Research Council, the Sloan Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. His most recent work looks at the rapidly evolving relationship between trade, migration, and the nation state.

Laurence Iannaccone is the Koch Professor of Economics at George Mason University. Prior to joining the faculty in 2002, he was a professor of economics at Santa Clara University and spent two years at Stanford's Hoover Institution as a national fellow (1989–90) and visiting scholar (1996–97). In more than fifty publications, Mr. Iannaccone has applied economic insights to study denominational growth, church attendance, religious giving, conversion, extremism, international trends, and many other aspects of religion and spirituality. His articles have appeared in numerous academic journals, including The American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, the American Journal of Sociology, and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. He is currently writing two books on the economics of religion.

Martin Kahanec is the deputy director of research at the Institute for the Study of Labor, where he has been a senior research associate since 2005, deputy program director of migration studies since 2007, and the leader of the European Union enlargement and labor markets research subarea since 2006. He is a member of several professional associations and a founding member of the Slovak Economic Association. His main research interests are labor and population economics, ethnicity, and migration. He has published in refereed journals, has a chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Economic Inequality (Oxford University Press), and has edited scientific volumes and a journal special issue. Mr. Kahanec has held several advisory positions and participated in a number of scientific and policy projects with the World Bank, the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and other international and national institutions.

Anh Tram Le is currently a senior lecturer in the business school at the University of Western Australia. Her research interests include labor market outcomes of female immigrants, educational attainment, unemployment, self-employment and human capital investment, and labor market activities of ex-offenders.

Linda Lesky is an associate professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University. Previously, she was an assistant vice president in the division of medical education at the Association of American Medical Colleges. From 1996 to 2004, she served as vice head for medical education and residency program director for the department of medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago. From 1988 to 1996, she was an associate firm chief in the department of medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and an associate for clinical faculty development in the Office of Educational Development at Harvard Medical School. She has been on the leadership councils of the Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine and the Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine. Her academic interests include medical education reform at the undergraduate and graduate levels and the economic and educational implications of physician workforce expansion. She works clinically as an academic hospitalist.

B. Lindsay Lowell is director of policy studies at the Institute for the Study of International Migration at Georgetown University. He was previously director of research at the congressionally appointed Commission on Immigration Reform, where he was also assistant director for the Mexico/United States Binational Study on Migration. He has been research director at the Pew Hispanic Center of the University of Southern California and a labor analyst at the U.S. Department of Labor, and he has taught at Princeton University and the University of Texas at Austin. Mr. Lowell coedited Sending Money Home: Hispanic Remittances and Community Development (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002) and has published over one hundred articles and reports on his research interests in immigration policy, labor force, economic development, and the global mobility of the highly skilled.

James Ted McDonald began his current appointment in the department of economics at the University of New Brunswick, Canada, in 2001 and was made full professor in July 2006. He has published papers on a variety of topics in labor economics, including the labor market outcomes of immigrants. This work appeared in the Journal of Human Resources, the Journal of Political Economy, Industrial Relations, the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, and Applied Economics. He has also worked extensively with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada on various facets of the employment insurance system. The main focus of his more recent and ongoing academic research is on the health outcomes, health service use, and health behaviors of immigrants and minority groups in developed countries, with a particular focus on cancer incidence and prevention. His research in this area has been published in Social Science and Medicine and the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health.

Paul W. Miller holds an Australian professorial fellowship in the business school at the University of Western Australia. His primary research interest is labor market performance, particularly as it relates to educational attainment, gender, and ethnic and racial origin. He was formerly the head of the department of economics at the University of Western Australia (1994–2001) and the inaugural head of the School of Economics and Commerce, formed in 2003. In 1997, he was elected as a fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. He has also received numerous honors for his papers, including the Economic Society of Australia's Best Paper Prize, the Milken Institute Award for Distinguished Economic Research, and the Economic Society of Australia's prize for the best paper published in the Economic Record. He has over 140 publications in refereed journals on labor market issues.

Henry Olsen is vice president and director of the National Research Initiative (NRI) at AEI. He disseminates and publicizes the Institute's work to the academic community; works with AEI's visiting, adjunct, and NRI research fellows; commissions and supervises NRI projects; and oversees the production of NRI publications. Mr. Olsen previously served as vice president for programs at the Manhattan Institute and as a judicial clerk to the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Danny J. Boggs.

Demetrios Papademetriou is the president of the Migration Policy Institute. He is also the convener of the Transatlantic Council on Migration and its predecessor, the Transatlantic Task Force on Immigration and Integration (coconvened with the Bertelsmann Stiftung). The council is composed of senior public figures, business leaders, and public intellectuals from Europe, the United States, and Canada. Mr. Papademetriou also convenes the Athens Migration Policy Initiative, a task force of mostly European senior immigration experts that advises European Union member states on immigration and asylum issues, and is the cofounder and international chair emeritus of the International Metropolis Project, an international forum for research and policy on migration and cities. Mr. Papademetriou has taught at the University of Maryland, Duke University, American University, and the New School for Social Research. He has held a wide range of senior positions that include chair of the migration committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, director for immigration policy and research at the U.S. Department of Labor, chair of the secretary of labor's Immigration Policy Task Force, and executive editor of the International Migration Review. He has published more than two hundred books, articles, monographs, and research reports on migration topics and advises senior government and political party officials in more than twenty countries.

Mark C. Regets is a senior analyst at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Science Resources Statistics and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). At NSF, he directed the two-hundred-thousand-respondent 1993 National Survey of College Graduates--still the largest survey ever fielded by NSF. Since 1995, he has written the science and engineering labor force chapter of NSF's Science and Engineering Indicators and has been directly involved in many other aspects of NSF's internal research on science, engineering, and technology. He has also been part of NSF support of external research as the project officer for the New Immigrant Survey Pilot and the National Academy of Sciences' Panel on Information Technology Labor Markets. Mr. Regets has been a U.S. representative to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) working groups on high-skill migration and Chinese human resources, NSF's representative to the U.S. Interagency Working Group on Immigration Data and Statistics, and IZA's representative to the European Network on Human Mobility. His principle areas of research are immigration and science labor markets. His research articles have appeared in numerous journals, including The American Economic Review; Demography; the International Migration Review; and various publications of NSF, IZA, AEI, the OECD, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Cordelia Reimers is professor emerita of economics at Hunter College and the graduate school of the City University of New York (CUNY), where she taught from 1982 to 2003. Her research has focused on differences in labor supply and labor market outcomes by race, ethnicity, and gender and on Social Security and retirement behavior. Recent papers have dealt with recent trends in labor force participation of highly educated mothers; the impact of 9/11 on low-skilled, minority, and immigrant New Yorkers and on Arabs and Muslims in the United States; and the impact of welfare reform in New York City. She served on the National Research Council panel on Hispanics in the United States, whose report, Multiple Origins, Uncertain Destinies: Hispanics and the American Future, was released by the National Academies in 2006. She has also been a senior economist at the Council of Economic Advisers and a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. She served on the board of the Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession. Prior to joining the faculty at CUNY, she was an assistant professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University.

David Stadelmann studied mathematics and economics at the University of Fribourg, where he is currently a doctoral student and research assistant. His main research interests include the effects of international migration on fiscal policy and economic growth, the role of fiscal variables for property values in the context of regional and international factor mobility, and the political economy of tax competition. More generally, he is interested in combining sound theoretical foundations with sophisticated empirical methods.

Eskil Wadensjö has been a professor of labor economics at the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University since 1980 and dean of the faculty of social sciences at the same university since 1996. He was previously an associate professor at the department of economics at Lund University from 1972 to 1980. His main research interests are the economics of international migration, labor market policy, and social security. Current research topics include the economic effects of immigration to Denmark, temporary employment agencies, and economic aspects of pension reform. He has published many books and articles, including The Nordic Labour Market in the 1990s (North-Holland, 1996); Enterprise and the Welfare State (Edward Elgar, 1997); Immigration to Denmark: International and National Perspectives (Aarhus University Press, 1999); and Gösta Rehn, the Swedish Model and Labour Market Policies (Ashgate, 2001). He was president of the European Association of Labour Economists (1993–99) and chairman of the Swedish Economic Association (1992–93), and he has been a member of several governmental committees. He joined the Institute for the Study of Labor as a research fellow in December 2000.

Casey Warman teaches in the department of economics at Queen's University and is a part-time research analyst for Statistics Canada. He received his doctorate in economics from Carleton University in 2006. His research interests include earnings and income inequality, gender differences in earnings, the economic integration of immigrants, temporary foreign workers, and mandatory retirement.

Yoram Weiss has been a professor of economics at Tel Aviv University since 1980 and has held the Daniel and Grace Ross Chair in Labor Economics since 1993. He was a member of the Committee of the Determination of Wages in the Public Sector from 1985 to 1989 and a member of the Committee on the Absorption of Skilled Immigrants in 1994. He has been the editor of the Journal of Labor Economics since 1993 and an editorial board member of the Economics of Education Review. Mr. Weiss has published in numerous economic journals, such as the Journal of Economic Theory, The American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, the Economic Journal, and the International Economic Review. He joined the Institute for the Study of Labor as a research fellow in December 2001.

Christopher Worswick is an associate professor in the department of economics at Carleton University. His main areas of research are labor economics and development economics, with a particular focus on the economics of immigration. He has published research on the earnings, unemployment, use of social programs, and labor supply of immigrants in Canada, Australia, and the United States.

Klaus Zimmermann has been director of the Institute for the Study of Labor and full professor of economics at the University of Bonn since 1998. He is also president of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin, since 2000), honorary professor of economics at the Free University of Berlin (since 2001), and honorary professor at the Renmin University of Peking (since December 2006). He is also chairman of the Society of the German Economic Research Institutes (since 2005), adviser to the president of the European Commission (2001–2003 and since 2005), economic adviser to the prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (since 2008), and a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Migration. Since 1988, Mr. Zimmermann has been editor-in-chief of the Journal of Population Economics. He serves as associate editor for various scientific journals and is author or editor of thirty-three books and over 190 papers in refereed journals and collected volumes. His special research interests center on labor economics, population economics, migration, industrial organization, and econometrics.

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  • David Frum is the author of six books, most recently, Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again (Doubleday, 2007). While at AEI, he studied recent political, generational, and demographic trends. In 2007, the British newspaper Daily Telegraph named him one of America's fifty most influential conservatives. Mr. Frum is a regular commentator on public radio's Marketplace and a columnist for The Week and Canada's National Post.


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