Study Shows Hiring Foreign Nurses Does Not Hurt US Nursing Jobs

December 16, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce, Recruitment & Volunteers

Last modified December 22, 2020

It’s no surprise that an aging U.S. population is rapidly increasing the demand for nursing care. The number of U.S. citizens aged 65 and over is expected to almost double from 43.1 million in 2012 to 87.5 million by 2050, while the workforce is continually shrinking. The COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified the need for health care professionals.

According to this recent article from Phys.org, one strategy to meet rising health care needs is to hire foreign nurses to fill the gaps. Opponents of immigration have asserted that the influx of foreign nurses has resulted in unemployment and lower wages for domestic nurses. However, a new study from the University of Illinois found no such displacement effects.

“Our findings show relying on foreign-educated registered nurses to balance demand and supply in the U.S. healthcare workforce does not hurt the employment of U.S.-educated nurses,” says Hyeran Chung, a doctoral student in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics (ACE) at U of I and the lead author on the paper.

Chung and co-author Mary Arends-Kuenning, associate professor in ACE, analyzed data from the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey from 1980-2015. Their research measures the inflow of foreign-educated registered nurses per 1,000 people in commuting zones across the U.S. Some studies have found foreign nurses displaced U.S. nurses, but Arends-Kuenning and Chung questioned those findings and wanted to do a deeper dive into the complex factors that influence the nursing labor market.

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