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Immigration amnesties

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  • Stephen Karlson
  • Eliakim Katz

Abstract

Barriers and border patrols complement amnesty in a coherent policy that creates incentives for illegal immigrants to self-select on the basis of ability in a way that benefits a rich host country. We consider the roles of barriers to migration and immigration amnesties in greater depth and, in particular, we examine the rich country's optimal policies. Encouraging self-selection is optimal under some, but not all, circumstances, because there are mixes of potential immigrants for which the cost of welfare migration is more than offset by the gains from productive workers enticed by a more lenient immigration policy. Furthermore, under plausible assumptions, the rich country's optimum may require a probabilistic rather than a certain amnesty to fine-tune the mix of migrants. Numerical examples illustrate that probabilistic or certain amnesties, addressed to different partitions of the migrant population, are each optimal as the mix of potential migrants changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Karlson & Eliakim Katz, 2010. "Immigration amnesties," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(18), pages 2299-2315.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:42:y:2010:i:18:p:2299-2315
    DOI: 10.1080/00036840701857986
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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandra Casarico & Giovanni Facchini & Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "Spending more is spending less: on the desirability of enforcing migration," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2012006, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.
    2. 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.
    3. Alessandra Casarico & Giovanni Facchini & Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "What Drives Immigration Amnesties?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3981, CESifo Group Munich.

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