The Labor Market Effects of Opening the Border: New Evidence from Switzerland

Andreas Beerli, Giovanni Peri

NBER Working Paper No. 21319
Issued in July 2015
NBER Program(s):LS

Between 1999 and 2007 Switzerland opened its labor markets to immigrants from the European Union (EU), fully liberalizing access by 2007. The timing of this labor market liberalization differed by geography, however. In particular, cross-border workers, who constituted more than half of EU immigrants, were allowed free-entry into the border region (BR), but not the non-border region (NBR), already in 2004. In this paper, we exploit the different timing of these policies in a difference-in-difference approach and estimate the effects of the policy changes on the inflow of new immigrants and on native labor market outcomes such as wages and employment by comparing the BR and NBR. We find that opening the border to EU immigrants increased their presence by 4 percent of employment, and this had no significant impact on average native wages and employment. Decomposing the effect between skill groups we find that immigrants complemented highly educated native workers, while they displaced middle educated workers and had no effect on less educated.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Supplementary materials for this paper:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21319

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Ottaviano and Peri w12497 Rethinking the Effects of Immigration on Wages
Borjas w9755 The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market
Peri and Yasenov w21801 The Labor Market Effects of a Refugee Wave: Applying the Synthetic Control Method to the Mariel Boatlift
Nevo and Wong w21318 The Elasticity of Substitution Between Time and Market Goods: Evidence from the Great Recession
Peri, Shih, and Sparber w21175 Foreign and Native Skilled Workers: What Can We Learn from H-1B Lotteries?
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us