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.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR) in its series Working Papers with number w0058.
Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2002
Date of revision: Dec 2005
Publication status: Forthcoming in the Journal of European Economic Association
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Illegal migration; wealth constraints; indentured servitude; financial contracting;
Other versions of this item:
- Guido Friebel & Sergei Guriev, 2006. "Smuggling Humans: A Theory of Debt-financed Migration," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(6), pages 1085-1111, December.
- 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).
- J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
- K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
- O17 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
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