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Effects of enforcement on illegal markets: Evidence from migrant smuggling along the southwestern border

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  • Gathmann, Christina

Abstract

The paper analyzes the effects of tighter border control on the illegal crossing market between Mexico and the United States. Combining panel data on illegal migrants with enforcement statistics, the effects of enforcement are found to be moderate: prices of border smugglers ('coyotes') increased by only 17%, while the demand for smugglers has remained unchanged. Enforcement has however shifted illegal migrants to remote crossing places. Border crossing is now more time-intensive with higher prices for coyotes and risk of death. This geographic substitution raised migration costs by $140, more than twice the effect of enforcement on smuggling prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Gathmann, Christina, 2008. "Effects of enforcement on illegal markets: Evidence from migrant smuggling along the southwestern border," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 1926-1941, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:10-11:p:1926-1941
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Antonio Spilimbergo & Gordon H. Hanson, 1999. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1337-1357, December.
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    9. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1986. "Illegal Immigration: The Host-Country Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 56-71, March.
    10. 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.
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