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AIER Issue Brief: H-1B Visas Have no Impact on Average Wages

How H-1B visa holders impact American wages is hotly debated. Many argue that H-1B workers, the foreign-born, highly skilled, temporary workers that companies can hire for three to six years, drive down American wages. Others argue that H-1B workers actually help increase wages for Americans.

But what if H-1B visa status has less impact on wages than we think?

Using 2010-2012 Census data and statistical analysis (ordinary least squares regression), AIER’s latest Issue Brief finds that contrary to either side of the debate, having H-1B visa status has no impact on average wages.

The employers that demand the most H-1B visas need computer technology workers, such as programmers and software developers, and financial services workers, like financial analysts.

We took everyone employed in these occupations from 2010-2012 and parsed out what factors impacted their average wages in that time period. Here are two of the major findings:

Women's Lower Expected Earnings

Women earn less than men.

In the six occupations within the computer technology industry, women are expected to earn, on average, almost $6,500 less than men. This is after controlling for educational differences, geographic differences, employment status, occupation, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics.

The gap for women in finance is larger: they are expected to earn over $14,000 less than men, even after taking into account these other characteristics.

Women in computer technology face an additional child penalty, while women in finance face an additional marriage penalty.

Average Expected Earnings by Industry

In computer technology, women with at least one child earn over $11,000 less than everyone else (women without children and all men, with or without children). However, women who are married in the tech industry face no additional penalty.

In the finance industry, the opposite trend emerges: women who are married face an additional expected wage penalty of almost $16,500. That means that women who are married are expected to earn, on average, $16,500 less than unmarried women and all men.

For the other major findings and full analysis, check out the brief here.

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