Smuggling Humans: A Theory of Debt-financed Migration
AbstractWe introduce financial constraints in a theoretical analysis of illegal immigration. Intermediaries finance the migration costs of wealth-constrained migrants, who enter temporary servitude contracts to repay the debt. These debt/labor contracts are easier to enforce in the illegal than in the legal sector of the host country. Hence, when moving from the illegal to the legal sector becomes more costly-for instance, because of stricter deportation policies-fewer immigrants default on debt. This reduces the risks for intermediaries, who are then more willing to finance illegal migration. Stricter deportation policies may thus, ex ante, increase rather than decrease the flow of illegal migrants. Furthermore, stricter deportation policies worsen the skill composition of immigrants. While stricter border controls decrease overall immigration, they may result in an increase of debt-financed migration. We also show that there are complementarities between employer sanctions and deportation policies. We use available evidence to check the empirical consistency of the theory. (JEL: J61, K42, O17) (c) 2006 by the European Economic Association.
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Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by MIT Press in its journal Journal of the European Economic Association.
Volume (Year): 4 (2006)
Issue (Month): 6 (December)
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Web page: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/jeea
Other versions of this item:
- Friebel, Guido & Guriev, Sergei, 2004. "Smuggling Humans: A Theory of Debt-Financed Migration," CEPR Discussion Papers 4305, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Friebel, Guido & Guriev, Sergei, 2004. "Smuggling Humans: A Theory of Debt-Financed Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 1025, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Guido Friebel & Sergei Guriev, 2002. "Smuggling Humans: A Theory of Debt-Financed Migration," Working Papers w0058, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR), revised Dec 2005.
- O15 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
- O17 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
- J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
- N21 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
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