The Ambrosini Critique

In a guest post on Ezra Klein’s blog, Mike Konczal brought my attention to Will Ambrosini’s blog The Ambrosini Critique. It appears to be serious and good. Count me as a new subscriber. I like the recent focus on the relationship between immigration and wages, which reviews some of the classic studies on the topic. Plus, I automatically have high regard for anyone who writes something like the following:

[W]e want to be sure that there is not something that makes a particular area or job a more attractive place to work causing both foreigners and natives to migrate to that area or job. If such a third factor existed, it would hide the effect of immigrants on natives. Suppose, for example, there was a technological advance making a particular job more lucrative (e.g. an acceleration in computational power makes the wages of computer programmers go up) or suppose there was a surge in demand for a job (e.g. nurses are in more demand as the population ages). Because immigrants and natives would be attracted to these jobs, the increase in immigration would be positively correlated with the increase in wages and the increase in native employment in these jobs. These omitted variables, to use economic jargon, might mask the potentially negative effect of immigration on wages.

Yep. Immigration is endogenous to wages. There are other factors that affect both. Hence, exploitation of natural randomness is necessary. Cue recent posts on observational studies with such designs, including instrumental variables approaches. They’re the bread and butter of this area of research.

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