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Immigration, remittances, and business cycles

  • Federico S. Mandelman
  • Andrei Zlate

We use data on border enforcement and macroeconomic indicators from the United States and Mexico to estimate a two-country business cycle model of labor migration and remittances. The model matches the cyclical dynamics of labor migration to the United States and documents how remittances to Mexico serve an insurance role to smooth consumption across the border. During expansions in the destination economy, immigration increases with the expected stream of future wage gains, but it is dampened by a sunk migration cost that reflects the intensity of border enforcement. During recessions, established migrants are deterred from returning to their country of origin, which places an additional downward pressure on the wage of native unskilled workers. Thus, migration barriers reduce the ability of the stock of immigrant labor to adjust during the cycle, enhancing the volatility of unskilled wages and remittances. We quantify the welfare implications of various immigration policies for the destination economy. ; Formerly titled: Immigration and the macroeconomy

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series FRB Atlanta Working Paper with number 2008-25.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2008-25
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