Job Market Paper

High-skilled Immigrant Workers and U.S. Firms’ Access to Foreign Venture Capital

Abstract: Most developed countries have engaged in a race for global talent, as skilled immigration becomes increasingly imperative in maintaining competitive advantages and galvanizing economic growth through various channels. In this paper, I study a novel channel, in which skilled immigrant workers potentially drive growth by improving firms’ access to international venture capital funding. With home-country professional networks and cultural familiarity, high-skilled immigrants likely lower investment frictions and coordination costs, and better facilitate cross-border venture capital investments from their origins. My first empirical approach makes use of the exogenous variation in firms’ access to high-skilled foreign workers as a result of the H-1B lotteries. To supplement in terms of external validity, I extend the period of analysis and exploit the heterogeneity in the origins of H-1B workers and venture capital funding received by their U.S. employers using extensive fixed effects. Through both approaches, I find empirical evidence that having high-skilled foreign workers from a particular country increases firms’ access to venture capital funding from that country. Lastly, I construct a framework to incorporate both the standard labor market and the novel foreign venture capital channels, through which high-skilled immigrants influence natives’ labor market outcomes. With a numerical exercise, I find that almost one-third of the displacement effect of high-skilled immigrants can be mitigated by the venture capital mechanism.

Other Working Papers

H-1B Lottery and the Selection of Immigrant Workers in the U.S.

Abstract: In recent years, the competition for the H-1B visas has become so intense that a random lottery has been put in place to meet the specific quotas. This paper examines the role of the H-1B lottery in the self-selection of the H-1B immigrant workers in the U.S. Building on the basis of the Roy-Borjas Model, I construct a self-selection framework with the uncertainty in obtaining legal admission into the host country incorporated. As the proposed framework suggests, a decrease in the probability of obtaining the H-1B visas will likely reinforce the direction of the self-selection of international workers, be it positive or negative. Empirically, I use the Form I-129 data from USCIS and find evidence that the presence of the H-1B lottery and its decreasing odds have contributed to the deterioration in the quality of skilled international workers applying for H-1B visas in the U.S.

Migration Networks and Mexican Migrants’ Spatial Mobility in the U.S. (with Brian C. Cadena, Brian K. Kovak, and Rebecca Lessem)

Abstract: Mexican low-skilled migrants are found to be highly mobile when they face labor demand shocks. This paper examines the role of migration networks in Mexican-born immigrants' location choices. We rely on the sizable variation in labor demand declines across states during the Great Recession to identify migration responses to demand shocks and use a novel set of data, the Matricula Consular de Alta Seguridad (MCAS) data, to construct migration network measures. We find that migration networks indeed play an important part in Mexican migrants' responsiveness to local demand shocks. In particular, migrants respond to local economic conditions and conditions in network-connected locations when making location decisions.

Other Published Work

Impact Evaluation of IMDA’s iSPRINT Scheme (with Melinda Poh), Economic Survey of Singapore, November 2016, pp. 40-49

Abstract: The iSPRINT is a financial assistance scheme administered by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) Singapore that aims to help local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) defray the costs of automating their business functions through information technology. Under the scheme, IMDA provides funding support to local SMEs for the first-time automation of each business function. This study seeks to evaluate the impact of the iSPRINT scheme on firms’ revenue performance. Apart from quantifying the overall impact of the iSPRINT scheme, the study also examines whether the effectiveness of the scheme varies across different solution types.