Doctoral thesis

Three essays in labor economics


148 p

Thèse de doctorat: Università della Svizzera italiana, 2019

English In this thesis, I investigate two of the main challenges faced by developed societies: aging and migration. In the first chapter, I consider the cultural determinants of elderly care arrangement decisions. The empirical strategy focuses on the three German and French speaking Swiss bilingual cantons. Particularly, since the structure of long-term care provision is planned at cantonal level, I compare the long-term care arrangement decisions of the elderly residing on either sides of the linguistic border. I find that on average people living in the French speaking part of bilingual cantons enter in nursing homes in worse health conditions and demand more home-based elderly care. These results are driven by differences in family ties and suggest that people with different cultural background may give different behavioral responses to the same public intervention. In the second chapter, I investigate the role of linguistic abilities in determining the substitutability between native and foreign workers. To this aim, I modify the model developed by Ottaviano and Peri (2012) and estimate some structural parameters, comparing workers of different nationalities and different linguistic backgrounds. The results show that migrant workers with the same linguistic background of native workers do not specialize in different occupations and are potentially perfect substitutes for native workers. By contrast, migrant workers with a different linguistic background tend to specialize in more manual intensive tasks and are somewhat complementary to resident natives. Finally, in the third chapter, I investigate whether firms play an active role in determining the labor demand for foreign workers. To this end, I replicate the empirical strategy of Autor et al. (2013), exploiting the upsurge of China as a world leading manufacturing exporter and instrumenting Chinese imports to the US with Chinese imports to other high income countries. The results show that an increase in import competition is positively related to the share of foreign workers employed, probably because of their greater productivity for a given salary. Given the negative impact of Chinese import competition on US employment, this effect on foreign workers may worsen the displacement of native workers, fostering anti-immigration feelings among the native population.
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