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Immigration, remittances and business cycles

  • Federico Mandelman
  • Andrei Zlate

We use data on border enforcement and macroeconomic indicators from the U.S. 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 U.S. 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.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 998.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:998
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