Early patterns of skill acquisition and immigrants’ specialization in STEM careers

Marcos A. Rangel, Ying Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We provide empirical evidence of immigrants’ specialization in skill acquisition well before entering the US labor market. Nationally representative datasets enable studying the academic trajectories of immigrant children, with a focus on high-school course-taking patterns and college major choice. Immigrant children accumulate skills in ways that reinforce comparative advantages in nonlanguage intensive skills such as mathematics and science, and this contributes to their growing numbers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) careers. These results are compatible with well-established models of skill formation that emphasize dynamic complementarities of investments in learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-489
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 8 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Comparative advantage
  • Dynamic complementarity
  • Immigration
  • STEM
  • Skill acquisition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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