Tuesday, February 14th, 2017 2:45 pm

High-Skilled Immigrant Visas

Question A: If the US significantly lowers the number of H-1B visas now, expected US tax revenues will rise materially over the next four years.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Question B: If the US significantly lowers the number of H-1B visas now, employment for American workers will rise materially over the next four years.

Responses
 

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Responses weighted by each expert's confidence

Source: IGM Economic Experts Panel
www.igmchicago.org/igm-economic-experts-panel

Question A Participant Responses

Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Strongly Disagree 9
Basic economic theory. Cheaper factor expands output. Revenues increase not decrease.
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Strongly Disagree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Strongly Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Strongly Disagree 7
H1B workers are mostly high-paid employees at profitable firms. Cutting H1Bs will reduce profits and total wage payments and therefore taxes
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Disagree 2
Bio/Vote History
         
Banerjee Abhijit Banerjee MIT Strongly Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Strongly Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Brunnermeier Markus Brunnermeier Princeton Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Disagree 9
It is hard to see any mechanism by which this occurs.
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Strongly Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Strongly Disagree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford Disagree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Disagree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Einav Liran Einav Stanford Uncertain 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Finkelstein Amy Finkelstein MIT Disagree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Strongly Disagree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Disagree 2
Yes, H-1b is a flawed way to bring in skiledl immigrants (gives employer control over their immigration). But repeal w/o replace is dumb.
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Hart Oliver Hart Harvard Disagree 6
H-1B visa holders pay taxes and so there seems no direct effect. Wages might rise, raising taxes, but profits will fall, reducing them.
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Disagree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Uncertain 10
I am confident that uncertain is correct because answer depends on general equilibrium effects that are extremely hard to identify credibly.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoynes Hilary Hoynes Berkeley Disagree 6 Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Disagree 8
Even if they were replaced by residents that are currently not working, there would be no net change in tax revenues.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kaplan Steven Kaplan Chicago Disagree 4
Fewer H1Bs will push U.S. cos. to hire talent outside the U.S., reducing output and tax revenue. Effect likely modest. Better more H1Bs.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Disagree 5
some jobs (and tax revenue) likely to shift overseas for the short run, hard to see how a material increase in taxes would be possible
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Strongly Disagree 10 Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Disagree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale Uncertain 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Strongly Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Samuelson Larry Samuelson Yale Disagree 6
H-1B visas have such a small and indirect effect on US tax revenues that one cannot be confident of a significant increase in tax revenues.
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Strongly Disagree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Strongly Disagree 8
Hard to see how making the labor force smaller could raise tax revenues.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shapiro Carl Shapiro Berkeley Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Shimer Robert Shimer Chicago Strongly Disagree 8
I can't imagine any argument for how restricting high skilled immigrants would increase tax revenue
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Disagree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Strongly Disagree 8 Bio/Vote History
         

Question B Participant Responses

Participant University Vote Confidence Comment Bio/Vote History
Acemoglu Daron Acemoglu MIT Disagree 5
The evidence is not clear. But no support for a strong effect.
Bio/Vote History
         
Alesina Alberto Alesina Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Altonji Joseph Altonji Yale Strongly Disagree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Auerbach Alan Auerbach Berkeley Strongly Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Autor David Autor MIT Strongly Disagree 7
H1Bs may slightly depress wages for high-skill workers. But they don't lower total jobs and they likely raise total profits and wages.
Bio/Vote History
         
Baicker Katherine Baicker Harvard Disagree 2
Bio/Vote History
         
Banerjee Abhijit Banerjee MIT Uncertain 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Bertrand Marianne Bertrand Chicago Strongly Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Brunnermeier Markus Brunnermeier Princeton Strongly Disagree 6
Immigrants have founded so many start-up companies, including Google, Tesla, ...
Bio/Vote History
         
Chetty Raj Chetty Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Chevalier Judith Chevalier Yale Disagree 6
H1Bs both a substitute & complement to US workers. But the substitute US workers are already nearly fully employed.
Bio/Vote History
         
Cutler David Cutler Harvard Strongly Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Deaton Angus Deaton Princeton Strongly Disagree 3
Bio/Vote History
         
Duffie Darrell Duffie Stanford No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         
Edlin Aaron Edlin Berkeley Disagree 6
Bio/Vote History
         
Eichengreen Barry Eichengreen Berkeley Disagree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Einav Liran Einav Stanford Uncertain 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Fair Ray Fair Yale Disagree 5
Bio/Vote History
         
Finkelstein Amy Finkelstein MIT Uncertain 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Goldberg Pinelopi Goldberg Yale Strongly Disagree 10
Bio/Vote History
         
Goolsbee Austan Goolsbee Chicago Disagree 3
Protectionism doesn't work
Bio/Vote History
         
Greenstone Michael Greenstone Chicago Disagree 2
Bio/Vote History
         
Hall Robert Hall Stanford Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Hart Oliver Hart Harvard Disagree 6
There aren't that many H-1B visas. Also skilled workers may be complementary to other workers, and so the effect could go the other way.
Bio/Vote History
         
Holmström Bengt Holmström MIT Disagree 7
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoxby Caroline Hoxby Stanford Uncertain 10
See above.
Bio/Vote History
         
Hoynes Hilary Hoynes Berkeley Disagree 6 Bio/Vote History
         
Judd Kenneth Judd Stanford Disagree 6
Many American workers are complementary to the H1-B workers. Net job impact is unclear.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kaplan Steven Kaplan Chicago Uncertain 7
Direct effect, may hire some U.S. employees. But will push other operations overseas, reducing U.S. activity. Net effect is uncertain.
Bio/Vote History
         
Kashyap Anil Kashyap Chicago Disagree 5
eventually perhaps some americans get hired, but seems more likely that there are shortages and activity moves in the short run
Bio/Vote History
         
Klenow Pete Klenow Stanford Disagree 7 Bio/Vote History
         
Levin Jonathan Levin Stanford Strongly Disagree 8
Bio/Vote History
         
Maskin Eric Maskin Harvard Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Nordhaus William Nordhaus Yale No Opinion
Bio/Vote History
         
Saez Emmanuel Saez Berkeley Disagree 4
Bio/Vote History
         
Samuelson Larry Samuelson Yale Disagree 6
H-1B visa holders fill positions that are hard to fill domestically for structural reasons, such as skill mismatches.
Bio/Vote History
         
Scheinkman José Scheinkman Princeton Uncertain 6
Some production would move out of the US because of the scarcity of skilled workers.
Bio/Vote History
         
Schmalensee Richard Schmalensee MIT Disagree 7
There might be some effect, but not a material effect.
Bio/Vote History
         
Shapiro Carl Shapiro Berkeley Did Not Answer
Bio/Vote History
         
Shimer Robert Shimer Chicago Uncertain 5
I expect some jobs that are currently held by H1Bs would go to native-born workers. Many other jobs would move out of the country.
Bio/Vote History
         
Thaler Richard Thaler Chicago Uncertain 1
Bio/Vote History
         
Udry Christopher Udry Yale Strongly Disagree 8
Innovative enterprises flourish with ideas and talent from around the world.
Bio/Vote History
         

10 New Economic Experts join the IGM Panel


For the past two years, our expert panelists have been informing the public about the extent to which economists agree or disagree on important public policy issues. This week, we are delighted to announce that we are expanding the IGM Economic Experts Panel to add ten new distinguished economists. Like our other experts, these new panelists have impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters, and their names will be familiar to other economists and the media.

To give the public a broad sense of their views on policy issues, each new expert has responded to a selection of 16 statements that our panel had previously addressed. We chose these 16 statements, which cover a wide range of important policy areas, because the original panelists' responses to them were analyzed in a paper comparing the views of our economic experts with those of the American public. You can find that paper, by Paola Sapienza and Luigi Zingales, here. The paper, along with other analyses of the experts' views, was discussed during the American Economic Association annual meetings, and the video can be found here.

The new panelists' responses to these statements can be seen on their individual voting history pages. Our ten new economic experts are:

Abhijit Banerjee (MIT)
Markus K. Brunnermeier (Princeton)
Liran Einav (Stanford)
Amy Finkelstein (MIT)
Oliver Hart (Harvard)
Hilary Hoynes (Berkeley)
Steven N. Kaplan (Chicago)
Larry Samuelson (Yale)
Carl Shapiro (Berkeley)
Robert Shimer (Chicago)


Please note that, for the 16 previous topics on which these new panelists have voted, we left the charts showing the distribution of responses unchanged. Those charts reflect the responses that our original panelists gave at the time, and we have not altered them to reflect the views of the new experts.

We have also taken this opportunity to ask our original panelists whether they would vote differently on any of the statements we have asked about in the past. Several experts chose to highlight statements to which they would currently respond differently. In such cases, you will see this "revote" below the panelist's original vote. We think you will enjoy seeing examples of statements on which some experts have reconsidered.

As with the 16 previous statements voted on by new panelists, these "revote" responses are not reflected in the chart that we display showing the distribution of views for that topic: all the charts for previous questions reflect the distribution of views that the experts expressed when the statement was originally posed.

About the IGM Economic Experts Panel

This panel explores the extent to which economists agree or disagree on major public policy issues. To assess such beliefs we assembled this panel of expert economists. Statistics teaches that a sample of (say) 40 opinions will be adequate to reflect a broader population if the sample is representative of that population.

To that end, our panel was chosen to include distinguished experts with a keen interest in public policy from the major areas of economics, to be geographically diverse, and to include Democrats, Republicans and Independents as well as older and younger scholars. The panel members are all senior faculty at the most elite research universities in the United States. The panel includes Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark Medalists, fellows of the Econometric society, past Presidents of both the American Economics Association and American Finance Association, past Democratic and Republican members of the President's Council of Economics, and past and current editors of the leading journals in the profession. This selection process has the advantage of not only providing a set of panelists whose names will be familiar to other economists and the media, but also delivers a group with impeccable qualifications to speak on public policy matters.

Finally, it is important to explain one aspect of our voting process. In some instances a panelist may neither agree nor disagree with a statement, and there can be two very different reasons for this. One case occurs when an economist is an expert on a topic and yet sees the evidence on the exact claim at hand as ambiguous. In such cases our panelists vote "uncertain". A second case relates to statements on topics so far removed from the economist's expertise that he or she feels unqualified to vote. In this case, our panelists vote "no opinion".

The Economic Experts Panel questions are emailed individually to the members of the panel, and each responds electronically at his or her convenience. Panelists may consult whatever resources they like before answering.

Members of the public are free to suggest questions (see link below), and the panelists suggest many themselves. Members of the IGM faculty are responsible for deciding the final version of each week’s question. We usually send a draft of the question to the panel in advance, and invite them to point out problems with the wording if they see any. In response, we typically receive a handful of suggested clarifications from individual experts. This process helps us to spot inconsistencies, and to reduce vagueness or problems of interpretation.

The panel data are copyrighted by the Initiative on Global Markets and are being analyzed for an article to appear in a leading peer-reviewed journal.

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