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Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border

  • Antonio Spilimbergo
  • Gordon H. Hanson

This paper examines the determinants of illegal immigration in the United States from Mexico from 1976 to 1995. The main challenge in the empirical work is that the observations are not the number of individuals that attempt to enter the United States illegally, but rather the number of individuals apprehended attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Based on a simple model of the individual migration decision, we postulate the existence of an apprehensions function, which expresses the number of apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border as a function of the number of illegal attempts to cross the border an the level of border-enforcement effort exerted by the U.S. government.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.89.5.1337
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 89 (1999)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1337-1357

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:89:y:1999:i:5:p:1337-1357
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.89.5.1337
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  1. Burda,M.C., 1995. "Migration and the Option Value of Waiting," Papers 597, Stockholm - International Economic Studies.
  2. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1986. "Illegal Immigration: The Host-Country Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 56-71, March.
  3. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  4. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1985. "International Trade and Labor Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 691-707, September.
  5. George J. Borjas, 1991. "National Origin and the Skills of Immigrants in the Postwar Period," NBER Working Papers 3575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman & Kevin Lang, 1991. "Undocumented Mexican-born Workers in the United States: How Many, How Permanent?," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 77-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Shaw, R Paul, 1986. "Fiscal versus Traditional Market Variables in Canadian Migration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 648-66, June.
  8. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1.
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