Research Statement [Download PDF]

Working Papers:

Immigration and Crime: Evidence from Canada (2013) (Job Market Paper) [Download PDF]
There is growing belief in many developed countries, including Canada, that the large influx of the foreign-born population increases crime. Despite the heated public discussion, the immigrant-crime relationship is understudied in the literature. This paper identifies the causal linkages between immigration and crime using panel data constructed from the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey and the master files of the Census of Canada. This paper distinguishes immigrants by their years in Canada and defines three groups: new immigrants, recent immigrants and established immigrants. An instrumental variable strategy based on the historical ethnic distribution is used to correct for the endogenous location choice of immigrants. Two robust patterns emerge. First, new immigrants do not have a significant impact on the property crime rate, but with time spent in Canada, a 10% increase in the recent-immigrant share or established-immigrant share decreases the property crime rate by 2% to 3%. Neither underreporting to police nor the dilution of the criminal pool by the addition of law-abiding immigrants can fully explain the size of the estimates. This suggests that immigration has a spillover effect, such as changing neighbourhood characteristics, which reduces crime rates in the long run. Second, IV estimates are consistently more negative than their OLS counterparts. By not correctly identifying the causal channel, OLS estimation leads to the incorrect conclusion that immigration is associated with higher crime rates.

Centralized vs. Decentralized Immigrant Selection: An Assessment of the BC Experience (2012) [Download PDF
Metropolis BC Working Paper, 12-04. 
Media coverage: Vancouver SunMing Pao News 
As a complement to the centralized immigrant selection system in Canada, each province or territory has the right to select immigrants through the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) to satisfy province-specific labour market demand. I document a large short-run earnings advantage of British Columbia Provincial Nominees (BC PNs) compared to Federal Skilled Workers (FSWs) selected via the points system. A flexible empirical specification and Oxaca-Blinder decomposition suggest that this earnings gap is largely due to the different wage structures of these two groups. PNs do not appear to suffer the lack of credential recognition that FSWs do. Possible reasons for the different wage structures include: whether the migrant previously stayed in Canada, the PNP programs job-offer requirement, and cream skimming by provincial authorities. The findings raise questions about the centralized federal immigration selection process. On the one hand, employers (who are directly involved in PNP immigrant selection due to the job-offer requirement) can better recognize and reward the credentials of immigrants. On the other hand, my findings indicate that employers tend to pick immigrants from developed English-speaking countries, which could reflect employer discrimination in the labour market. Balancing the skills of immigrants with cultural diversity is a difficult task.

Research in Progress:

Ethnic Diversity and Labour Market Outcomes of the Native-Born: Evidence from Canadian Census Data (with Florian Hoffmann)
This paper discusses the productivity value brought in by the increasingly diversified workforce. Instead of treating immigrants as one homogeneous group conditional on their level of education and experience, this chapter focuses on the composition of immigrants and studies the impact of diversity (by source country) on the wages of native workers. This chapter uses an IV strategy based on the historical ethnic distribution and separates the impact by education level. Although diversity of less-educated immigrants appears to have a negative impact on wages, this negative impact disappears after controlling for the share of the foreign-born population, which suggest that the diversity of low educated workers is picking up the effect of increased supply of low educated workers. More strikingly, diversity of highly educated immigrants (Bachelors degree and above) has a strong and robust positive impact on wages of less-educated natives, suggesting that diversified workers from different cultural backgrounds may bring skills, abilities, and creativity that are complementary to each other in the production process. This chapter uses a novel approach to test for two distinctive mechanism of the spillover effect from diversity of highly-educated immigrants to wages of less-educated natives. "Productivity spillover" refers to the channel when highly educated immigrants increase the productivity of workers they interact with, while "general-equilibrium demand spillover" refers to the mechanism when highly-educated immigrants increase demand for goods and services provided by less-educated natives. Empirical results support the existence of both mechanism, and favours the ``productivity spillover'' channel.

Assessing the Impact of Immigrants on Canadian Labour Market
This paper assesses the impact of recent immigrants (immigrants who arrived Canada within the past ten years) on wages. Regional labour markets are defined by census metropolitan areas that are further stratified along occupation lines. As an IV strategy, this chapter uses the historical distribution of immigrants from a certain country to allocate new waves of immigrants from that country to address the endogeneity concerns. Results show that recent immigrants do not have an impact on the wages of native workers, but they decrease the wages of the immigrant workers who arrived more than a decade earlier. The negative impact is more prevalent for male immigrant workers than female immigrant workers. The findings in this chapter suggest that recent immigrants and native workers are not perfect substitutes, and the competition between recent immigrants and more established immigrant workers is at a higher level.