Does immigrant employment matter for export sales? Evidence from Denmark

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


  • Sanne Hiller

Immigration impacts on the economy in ample ways: it affects growth, wages and total factor productivity. This study deals with the effects of immigration on firm exports. Can firms benefit from hiring immigrants to expand their export sales? Or do immigrants who live in the firm's region affect trade? In contrast to the existing literature, we are able to distinguish these two distinct channels. Using matched employer-employee data from Denmark for the years 1995-2005, we provide novel insights in the nexus between exports and immigration. We further contribute to the literature by providing first evidence on the adjustment of firms' product portfolio in response to immigration. Our empirical results are consistent with the claim that immigration lowers barriers to trade. Both, regional immigration and foreign employment matter for the composition of firm-level exports. As a novel insight, our findings suggest that firms benefit from immigration in terms of expanded export sales, when they hire foreign employees. We only find weak evidence for the local presence of foreigners to increase export sales, which we ascribe to the conjecture that at least some trade-cost reducing forces of immigration like for example intercultural knowledge or personal and business networks abroad, can only be accessed or exploited via foreign employment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of World Economics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)369-394
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 06.2013

    Research areas

  • Firm-level analysis, International trade, Matched employer-employee data, Migration
  • Economics