Fixing the Migrant Mismatch: What Happens When Firms Value Immigrants Differently than Governments?

Immigrant doctors driving Uber, engineers serving as baristas and researchers cleaning offices all represent a fundamental mismatch between national immigrant policy, which determines who is sufficiently valued by the nation to be admitted into the country, and the degree to which a nation’s employers also value those same immigrants’ skills. Nations whose firms restrict career success among recent immigrants can expect that eventually people will act on their anger, provoking social unrest, protests, riots or worse (Algan, Dustmann, Glitz, & Manning, 2010). This project is an attempt to answer two questions:

  • Why does a mismatch exist between the implied value of recent immigrants by national immigration policy and that implied by firm-level practices?
  • What can be done to fix it?

In response to the second question, we use evidence to make recommendations for both immigration policy and government support for firm practices. Overall, government policies that encourage firms to adopt supportive practices may help immigrants realize a more equitable future, help firms capitalize on the human capital of immigrant employees, and help nations maximize the economic value of an immigrant workforce. To answer the first question, we examine what’s wrong with points-based policies and how firms might be part of the solution.