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The Wage Impact of the Marielitos: A Reappraisal

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  • Borjas, George J.

    (Harvard University)

Abstract

This paper brings a new perspective to the analysis of the Mariel supply shock, revisiting the question and the data armed with the accumulated insights from the vast literature on the economic impact of immigration. A crucial lesson from this literature is that any credible attempt to measure the wage impact of immigration must carefully match the skills of the immigrants with those of the pre-existing workforce. The Marielitos were disproportionately low-skill; at least 60 percent were high school dropouts. A reappraisal of the Mariel evidence, specifically examining the evolution of wages in the low-skill group most likely to be affected, quickly overturns the finding that Mariel did not affect Miami's wage structure. The absolute wage of high school dropouts in Miami dropped dramatically, as did the wage of high school dropouts relative to that of either high school graduates or college graduates. The drop in the relative wage of the least educated Miamians was substantial (10 to 30 percent), implying an elasticity of wages with respect to the number of workers between -0.5 and -1.5. In fact, comparing the magnitude of the steep post-Mariel drop in the low-skill wage in Miami with that observed in all other metropolitan areas over an equivalent time span between 1977 and 2001 reveals that the change in the Miami wage structure was a very unusual event. The analysis also documents the sensitivity of the estimated wage impact to the choice of a placebo. The measured impact is much smaller when the placebo consists of cities where pre- Mariel employment growth was weak relative to Miami.

Suggested Citation

  • Borjas, George J., 2015. "The Wage Impact of the Marielitos: A Reappraisal," Working Paper Series 15-057, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:harjfk:15-057
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    File URL: https://research.hks.harvard.edu/publications/getFile.aspx?Id=1262
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The Wage Impact of the Marielitos: A Reappraisal
      by maximorossi in NEP-LTV blog on 2016-10-06 00:03:02

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    Cited by:

    1. Gehrsitz, Markus & Ungerer, Martin, 2016. "Jobs, cime, and votes: A short-run evaluation of the refugee crisis in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-086, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    2. Monras, Joan, 2015. "Minimum Wages and Spatial Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 9460, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. repec:eee:eecrev:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:240-263 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jennifer L. Doleac & Benjamin Hansen, 2016. "Does “Ban the Box” Help or Hurt Low-Skilled Workers? Statistical Discrimination and Employment Outcomes When Criminal Histories are Hidden," NBER Working Papers 22469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Immigrants, Productivity, and Labor Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 3-30, Fall.
    6. Stefan Seifert & Marica Valente, 2018. "An Offer that you Can't Refuse? Agrimafias and Migrant Labor on Vineyards in Southern Italy," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1735, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Thomas Kemeny & Abigail Cooke, 2018. "Spillovers from immigrant diversity in cities," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 213-245.
    8. Christian Dustmann & Uta Schönberg & Jan Stuhler, 2016. "The Impact of Immigration: Why Do Studies Reach Such Different Results?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 31-56, Fall.
    9. Morales, Juan S., 2018. "The impact of internal displacement on destination communities: Evidence from the Colombian conflict," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 132-150.

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