Explaining US Immigration 1971-1998
In this paper we develop and estimate a model to explain the level and source country composition of immigration to the United States since the early 1970s. The model incorporates ratios to the US of source country income and education, and demographic structure, as well as relative inequality as suggested by the Roy model applied to migrant selection. In addition we incorporate the 'friends and relatives effect' as reflected in the stock of previous immigrants and a variety of variables representing different dimensions of the immigration quotas set by policy. We estimate our immigration model on a panel of 81 source countries for the years 1971 to 1998. The results strongly support the influence of economic and demographic variables and geographic characteristics as well as policy variables. We use the results to shed light on the factors that influenced the composition of US immigration by source region. And we provide a further check on its plausibility by simulating the effects of the key changes in immigration policy since the late 1970s.
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