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Understanding the Role of Immigrants’ Legal Status: Evidence from Policy Experiments

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  • Francesco Fasani

Abstract

Programmes aimed at reducing the presence of unauthorized immigrants are often at the core of the migration policy debate in host countries. In recent years, a growing body of empirical literature has attempted to understand the effect of lacking legal status on immigrants’ outcomes and behaviour. The main difficulties in this field are the scarcity of data and the identification challenge posed by endogenous selection into legal status. The vast majority of these articles have therefore used amnesty programmes (or similar policy changes) to establish causal relationships. In this article, we propose a first systematic review of the empirical literature for the USA and Europe on the impact of legal status on different immigrants’ outcomes. We then present some new evidence of the relationship between labour market outcomes and legal status in the Italian context. In our empirical analysis, we first provide some descriptive evidence on differences in the outcomes for groups with different residence statuses, and we then exploit a specific amnesty programme to produce causal estimates of the impact of legal status. Our results confirm previous findings in the literature and show that the design of the specific amnesty analysed matters in shaping its effects. (JEL codes: F22, J61, K37).

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Fasani, 2015. "Understanding the Role of Immigrants’ Legal Status: Evidence from Policy Experiments," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 61(3-4), pages 722-763.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cesifo:v:61:y:2015:i:3-4:p:722-763.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/cesifo/ifv006
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    1. Neeraj Kaushal, 2006. "Amnesty Programs and the Labor Market Outcomes of Undocumented Workers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(3).
    2. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Mazzolari, Francesca, 2010. "Remittances to Latin America from migrants in the United States: Assessing the impact of amnesty programs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 323-335, March.
    3. Magnus Lofstrom & Laura Hill & Joseph Hayes, 2013. "Wage And Mobility Effects Of Legalization: Evidence From The New Immigrant Survey," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(1), pages 171-197, February.
    4. Carlo Devillanova & Francesco Fasani & Tommaso Frattini, 2014. "Employment of Undocumented Immigrants and the Prospect of Legal Status: Evidence from an Amnesty Program," Development Working Papers 367, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 26 Jun 2014.
    5. Joseph G. Altonji & David Card, 1991. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcomes of Less-skilled Natives," NBER Chapters,in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 201-234 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz, 1999. "Undocumented workers in the labor market: An analysis of the earnings of legal and illegal Mexican immigrants in the United States," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 12(1), pages 91-116.
    7. Francesco Fasani, 2016. "Immigrant Crime and Legal Status: Evidence from Repeated Amnesty Programs," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1621, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    8. Kristin F. Butcher & Anne Morrison Piehl, 1998. "Cross-city evidence on the relationship between immigration and crime," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(3), pages 457-493.
    9. Milo Bianchi & Paolo Buonanno & Paolo Pinotti, 2012. "Do Immigrants Cause Crime?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(6), pages 1318-1347, December.
    10. Pia Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny & Emily Kerr, 2012. "Chinese Immigrants in the U.S. Labor Market: Effects of Post-Tiananmen Immigration Policy," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 456-482, June.
    11. Bernt Bratsberg & James F. Ragan & Zafar M. Nasir, 2002. "The Effect of Naturalization on Wage Growth: A Panel Study of Young Male Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 568-597, July.
    12. Christian Dustmann & Francesco Fasani & Biagio Speciale, 2017. "Illegal Migration and Consumption Behavior of Immigrant Households," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 654-691.
    13. Antonio Accetturo & Luigi Infante, 2010. "Immigrant Earnings in the Italian Labour Market," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 69(1), pages 1-28, April.
    14. Silvia Helena Barcellos, 2010. "Legalization and the Economic Status of Immigrants," Working Papers 754, RAND Corporation.
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    16. Breno Sampaio & Gustavo Ramos Sampaio & Yony Sampaio, 2013. "On Estimating the Effects of Immigrant Legalization: Do U.S. Agricultural Workers Really Benefit?," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 95(4), pages 932-948.
    17. Brian Bell & Francesco Fasani & Stephen Machin, 2013. "Crime and Immigration: Evidence from Large Immigrant Waves," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(4), pages 1278-1290, October.
    18. Scott Baker, 2010. "Effects of Legal Status and Health Service Availability on Mortality," Discussion Papers 09-018, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    19. Sherrie A. Kossoudji & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark, 2002. "Coming out of the Shadows: Learning about Legal Status and Wages from the Legalized Population," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 598-628, July.
    20. Lozano, Fernando A. & Sorensen, Todd A., 2011. "The Labor Market Value to Legal Status," IZA Discussion Papers 5492, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    21. Joshua D. Angrist, 1998. "Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(2), pages 249-288, March.
    22. Alessandra Casarico & Giovanni Facchini & Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "Spending More is Spending Less: Policy Dilemmas on Irregular Migration," Development Working Papers 330, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 27 Mar 2012.
    23. Julie L. Hotchkiss & Myriam Quispe-Agnoli, 2009. "Employer monopsony power in the labor market for undocumented workers," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2009-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    24. Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2014. "Understanding the Impact of Immigration on Crime," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(1), pages 177-219.
    25. Scott Baker, 2013. "Effects of Immigrant Legalization on Crime: The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act," Discussion Papers 12-012, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    26. Silvia Helena Barcellos, 2010. "Legalization and the Economic Status of Immigrants," Working Papers WR-754, RAND Corporation.
    27. repec:aea:aejpol:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:117-51 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Sherrie A. Kossoudji, 2016. "What are the consequences of regularizing undocumented immigrants?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 296-296, September.
    2. Fabio Méndez & Facundo Sepúlveda & Nieves Valdés, 2016. "Legalization and human capital accumulation," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 29(3), pages 721-756, July.
    3. Guriev, Sergei & Speciale, Biagio & Tuccio, Michele, 2016. "How do regulated and unregulated labor markets respond to shocks? Evidence from immigrants during the Great Recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 11403, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Eric Schuss, 2017. "Substantial Labor Market Effects of the Residency Status: How Important Are Initial Conditions at Arrival for Immigrants?," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 952, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    5. Francesco Fasani, 2016. "Immigrant Crime and Legal Status: Evidence from Repeated Amnesty Programs," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1621, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • K37 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Immigration Law

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