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What Do Networks Do? The Role of Networks on Migration and "Coyote" Use

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  • Sarah Dolfin
  • Garance Genicot

Abstract

While a large literature has established that migration experience among an individual's family and community networks tends to encourage migration, there is little research investigating the mechanism by which networks exert such effects. This paper aims to determine the relative importance of three potential benefits provided by networks: information on border crossing, information on jobs, and credit. We develop empirical tests of these effects based on a simple model that allows individuals to choose between migrating alone or with the help of a border smuggler. Using a dataset of undocumented Mexican migrants to the United States, we find that larger family networks encourage both migration and coyote use, consistent with the job information hypothesis. In contrast, community networks appear to provide crossing information. The finding that family networks have a smaller impact for asset holders indicates that some of the benefit the family network provides is a source of credit. Copyright © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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  • Sarah Dolfin & Garance Genicot, 2010. "What Do Networks Do? The Role of Networks on Migration and "Coyote" Use," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(2), pages 343-359, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:rdevec:v:14:y:2010:i:2:p:343-359
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gathmann, Christina, 2004. "The Effects of Enforcement on Illegal Markets: Evidence from Migrant Smuggling along the Southwestern Border," IZA Discussion Papers 1004, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. B. Davis & P. Winters, 2001. "Gender, Networks and Mexico-US Migration," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(2), pages 1-26.
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    7. Edward Funkhouser, 2009. "The Choice of Migration Destination: A Longitudinal Approach using Pre-Migration Outcomes," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(4), pages 626-640, November.
    8. Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2005. "Self-selection among undocumented immigrants from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 215-240, October.
    9. Katharine Donato & Jorge Durand & Douglas Massey, 1992. "Stemming the tide? Assessing the deterrent effects of the immigration reform and control act," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 29(2), pages 139-157, May.
    10. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    11. Sherrie Kossoudji, 1992. "Playing Cat and Mouse at the U.S.-Mexican Border," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 29(2), pages 159-180, May.
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