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Immigrant Legalization and the Redistribution of State Funds: Evidence from the 1986 IRCA

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  • Navid Sabet
  • Christoph Winter

Abstract

We study the impact of immigrant legalization on fiscal transfers from state to local governments in the United States, exploiting variation in legal status from the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). State governments allocate more resources to IRCA counties, an allocation that is responsive to the electoral incentives of the governor. Importantly, the effect emerges prior to the enfranchisement of the IRCA migrants and we argue it is driven by the IRCA’s capacity to politically empower already legal Hispanic migrants in mixed legal status communities. The IRCA increases turnout in large Hispanic communities as well as Hispanic political engagement, without triggering anti-migrant sentiment.

Suggested Citation

  • Navid Sabet & Christoph Winter, 2023. "Immigrant Legalization and the Redistribution of State Funds: Evidence from the 1986 IRCA," CESifo Working Paper Series 10787, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_10787
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Paolo Pinotti, 2017. "Clicking on Heaven's Door: The Effect of Immigrant Legalization on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(1), pages 138-168, January.
    2. 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.
    3. Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico & Francesco Lancia & Alessia Russo, 2020. "Youth Enfranchisement, Political Responsiveness, and Education Expenditure: Evidence from the US," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 12(3), pages 76-106, August.
    4. Elizabeth U. Cascio, 2014. "Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds following the Voting Rights Act of 1965," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 129(1), pages 379-433.
    5. 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.
    6. Cascio, Elizabeth U. & Lewis, Ethan G., 2019. "Distributing the Green (Cards): Permanent residency and personal income taxes after the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 172(C), pages 135-150.
    7. Ying Pan, 2012. "The Impact of Legal Status on Immigrants’ Earnings and Human Capital: Evidence from the IRCA 1986," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 119-142, June.
    8. Thomas Fujiwara, 2015. "Voting Technology, Political Responsiveness, and Infant Health: Evidence From Brazil," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 423-464, March.
    9. Matthew Freedman & Emily Owens & Sarah Bohn, 2018. "Immigration, Employment Opportunities, and Criminal Behavior," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 117-151, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    distributive politics; state and local government; immigrant legalization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • P16 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Capitalist Economies - - - Capitalist Institutions; Welfare State

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