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Political economy, sectoral shocks, and border enforcement

  • Gordon H. Hanson
  • Antonio Spilimbergo

In this paper, we examine the correlation between sectoral shocks and border enforcement in the United States, the U.S. government's main policy instrument for combating illegal immigration. We see whether border enforcement falls following positive shocks to sectors that are intensive in the use of undocumented labour, as would be consistent with political economy models of illegal immigration. We find that border enforcement is negatively correlated with lagged relative price changes in the apparel, fruits and vegetables, and livestock industries and with housing starts in western United States, suggesting that authorities relax border enforcement when demand for undocumented labour is high.

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Article provided by Canadian Economics Association in its journal Canadian Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 34 (2001)
Issue (Month): 3 (August)
Pages: 612-638

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Handle: RePEc:cje:issued:v:34:y:2001:i:3:p:612-638
Contact details of provider: Postal: Canadian Economics Association Prof. Steven Ambler, Secretary-Treasurer c/o Olivier Lebert, CEA/CJE/CPP Office C.P. 35006, 1221 Fleury Est Montréal, Québec, Canada H2C 3K4
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  1. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 1996. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," Research Department Publications 4036, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  2. Djajic, Slobodan, 1997. "Illegal Immigration and Resource Allocation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(1), pages 97-117, February.
  3. Bond, Eric W. & Chen, Tain-Jy, 1987. "The welfare effects of illegal immigration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 315-328, November.
  4. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 21-92, Tel Aviv.
  5. Sapir, Andre, 1983. "Foreign competition, immigration and structural adjustment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3-4), pages 381-394, May.
  6. H. Moehring, 1988. "Symbol versus substance in legislative activity: The case of illegal immigration," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 57(3), pages 287-294, June.
  7. Richard B. Freeman, 1982. "Crime and the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 1031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hanson, G.H. & Robertson, R. & Spilimbergo, A., 1999. "Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers from Illegal Immigration?," Working Papers 438, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  9. Giovanni Maggi & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, 1999. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1135-1155, December.
  10. Godfrey, L G, 1994. "Testing for Serial Correlation by Variable Addition in Dynamic Models Estimated by Instrumental Variables," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 550-59, August.
  11. Pravin Krishna & Devashish Mitra, 1999. "A Theory of Unilateralism and Reciprocity in Trade Policy," Working Papers 99-9, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  12. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "Trade Liberalization and the Theory of Endogenous Protection: An Econometric Study of U.S. Import Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 138-60, February.
  13. Gabriella Bucci & Rafael Tenorio, 1996. "On financing the internal enforcement of illegal immigration policies," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 65-81, February.
  14. 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.
  15. Djajic, Slobodan, 1987. "Illegal aliens, unemployment and immigration policy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 235-249, February.
  16. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, December.
  17. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1986. "Illegal Immigration: The Host-Country Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 56-71, March.
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