Essays in Political Economy
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AbstractThis dissertation comprises three essays in political economy, presented as separate chapters. They share a focus on labor markets, occupational choice, and the political economy of redistribution and immigration attitudes. Chapter 1 examines the relationship between immigration attitudes and the skills composition of individuals’ occupations. Since immigrants face higher barriers to entry into occupations that rely on social skills, they are less likely to pose a labor market threat to native workers who hold social skill-intensive jobs. I find that individuals in social occupations exhibit more favorable attitudes towards immigration, and favor less restrictive immigration policies. Chapter 2 examines the effect of English language proficiency on the occupational choices of childhood immigrants into the United States. Using an instrumental variables approach based on the critical period hypothesis from linguistics, I find that higher proficiency allows immigrants to work in more lucrative occupations. In addition, a better grasp of the English language leads immigrants to choose occupations in which communication skills are more important. Chapter 3 examines the relationship between social capital and redistribution preferences. I find some evidence that individuals with better-quality social networks tend to oppose increasing taxes on the rich and lowering taxes on the poor. At the same time, higher social network quality does not appear to correlate with an individual’s belief that the government ought to reduce income differences, or increase spending on unemployment benefits.
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