CEPII, Recherche et Expertise sur l'economie mondiale
Immigrants and Firms' Productivity: Evidence from France


Cristina Mitaritonna
Gianluca Orefice
Giovanni Peri

 Highlights :
  • Supply-driven increase in foreign born workers in a department (location) increases the productivity of firms in that department. The previous effect is significantly stronger for firms with initially low (or zero) level of foreign employment.
  • Productivity effect of immigrants is associated with faster growth of capital and improved export performances (both extensive and intensive margins) of the firms.
  • Supply-driven increase in foreign born workers in a department (location) implies a re-allocation of native workers towards communication and cognitive intensive tasks.

 Abstract :
Immigrants may complement native workers, allow reallocation by skill in the firm and lower costs. These effects could be beneficial for the firm and increase its productivity and profits. However not all firmes use immigrants. Allowing firms to have differential fixed cost in hiring immigrants, because of different information and access to their network, we analyze the impact of an increase in local supply of immigrants on firms' immigrant employment and productivity. Using micro-level data on French firms during the period 1995-2005, we show that a supply-driven increase in foreign born workers in a department (location) increases the productivity of firms in that department. We also find that this effect is significantly stronger for firms with initially low (or zero) level of foreign employment. Those are also the firms whose share of immigrants increases the most. We also find that the positive productivity effect of immigrants is associated with faster growth of capital and improved export performances (for extensive and intensive margin) of the firms. While these outcomes depend on the firm share of immigrants in employment we find a positive effect of immigration on wages of natives and on specialization of natives in complex occupations that is common to all firms in the district. Supply-driven increase in foreign born workers in a department (location) implies a re-allocation of native workers towards communication and cognitive intensive tasks.

 Keywords : immigrants | firms | productivity | heterogeneity | fixed cost of hiring

 JEL : F22, E25, J61
CEPII Working Paper
N°2014-09, March 2014

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