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Fiscal Revenues and Commitment in Immigration Amnesties

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Abstract

Reasons to grant immigration amnesties include the intention to reduce the weight of the informal sector and the attempt to identify employers of undocumented workers. However, it is incontestable that potential fiscal gains are important: tax revenues are crucial in all kinds of amnesties. Nevertheless, over the last 30 years 24% of applications have been rejected. It is still unexplained why governments accept this loss of fiscal base. We argue that applying for amnesty is basically selfincrimination, and that immigration-averse governments have an incentive to exploit the applications to identify and expel illegal workers. In our Nash equilibrium only applicants with the highest income are granted amnesty, and the poorest immigrants do not apply. In addition, it is not possible to establish a reputation because the players are different every time the game is repeated. Thus, fiscal revenues are sub-optimal and amnesties are an inefficient way to make illegal workers come forward.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy in its series CSEF Working Papers with number 315.

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Date of creation: 28 May 2012
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Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:315

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Keywords: Amnesty; illegal immigration; time consistency; incentive compatibility;

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  1. Hanson, G.H. & Spilimbergo, A., 1999. "Political Economy, Sectoral Shocks, and Border Enforcement," Working Papers 449, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  2. Chau, Nancy H, 2001. "Strategic Amnesty and Credible Immigration Reform," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(3), pages 604-34, July.
  3. Gil Epstein & Avi Weiss, 2011. "The why, when, and how of immigration amnesties," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 285-316, January.
  4. Mayr, Karin & Minter, Steffen & Krieger, Tim, 2012. "Policies on illegal immigration in a federation," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 153-165.
  5. Tim Krieger & Steffen Minter, 2007. "Immigration amnesties in the southern EU member states - a challenge for the entire EU?," Working Papers CIE 6, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  6. Karlson, Stephen H. & Katz, Eliakim, 2003. "A positive theory of immigration amnesties," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 231-239, February.
  7. repec:pdn:wpaper:6 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Hillman, Arye L. & Weiss, Avi, 1999. "A theory of permissible illegal immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 585-604, November.
  9. repec:pdn:wpaper:23 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Avi Weiss & Arye L. Hillman & Gil S. Epstein, 1999. "Creating illegal immigrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 3-21.
  11. Ira N. Gang & Myeong-Su Yun, 2006. "Immigration Amnesty and Immigrant's Earnings," Departmental Working Papers 200632, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
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