unobserved skill

Enrique Diaz-Alvarez enrique at
Wed Oct 14 21:14:25 PDT 1998

Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> meanwhile companies use H-1 visas to get
> the very best foreign programmers and engineers at basically working class
> wages which should shoot down any hypothesis about the positive relation
> between unobserved skill/cognitive ability/IQ and income.

Oops, I misunderstood what you meant here, Rakesh. My apologies. However, I think that this is still not a good example. First of all, the salaries that highly qualified foreign engineers and programmers get through the H-1 program, in my experience, are essentially the same as those of Americans of similar experience. If you have any evidence to the contrary, I'd be _very_ interested in taking a look at it.

On the other hand, the notion that the H-1 program is a conduit to get elite foreign scientists and engineers to bring their otherwise unavaliable skill to the US is mostly corporate propaganda. The main beneficiaries of the program are programming sweatshops doing fairly basic coding and looking for a cheap way to cut their labor and training costs, like you say. But H-1 workers cannot change employers or stop working, under threat of deportation; that their wages are lower than those of their US counterparts (and I assume they are) says little about the relationship between skill and income, I think.

> best, rakesh

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