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The Effects of Enforcement on Illegal Markets: Evidence from Migrant Smuggling along the Southwestern Border

  • Gathmann, Christina

    ()

    (Heidelberg University)

This paper analyzes how enforcement along the U.S.-Mexican border has affected the market for migrant smugglers. Using a unique dataset that links border crossing histories from illegal Mexican migrants to aggregate enforcement and punishment statistics, we find that the effect of enforcement on smuggling prices is small. Though enforcement has more than tripled over the past fifteen years, smuggling prices have increased by at most 30 percent. Unlike estimates from illegal drugs, the demand for border smugglers is however price elastic. We also show that illegal migrants have switched from heavily patrolled areas to more remote and dangerous crossing routes. These avoidance costs are in fact three times. the direct costs of enforcement on smuggling prices

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp1004.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1004.

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Length: 67 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Public Economics, 2008, 92 (10-11), 1926-1941
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1004
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  1. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1986. "Illegal Immigration: The Host-Country Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 56-71, March.
  2. Saffer, Henry & Chaloupka, Frank, 1999. "The Demand for Illicit Drugs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(3), pages 401-11, July.
  3. Levitt, Steven D, 1997. "Using Electoral Cycles in Police Hiring to Estimate the Effect of Police on Crime," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(3), pages 270-90, June.
  4. Kuziemko, Ilyana & Levitt, Steven D., 2004. "An empirical analysis of imprisoning drug offenders," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2043-2066, August.
  5. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 1996. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," Research Department Publications 4036, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  6. Manuela Angelucci, 2012. "US Border Enforcement and the Net Flow of Mexican Illegal Migration," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(2), pages 311 - 357.
  7. Tauchen, Helen & Witte, Ann Dryden & Griesinger, Harriet, 1994. "Criminal Deterrence: Revisiting the Issue with a Birth Cohort," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 399-412, August.
  8. Viscusi, W Kip, 1986. "The Risks and Rewards of Criminal Activity: A Comprehensive Test of Criminal Deterrence," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(3), pages 317-40, July.
  9. Jeffrey A. Miron, 2003. "The Effect of Drug Prohibition on Drug Prices: Evidence from the Markets for Cocaine and Heroin," NBER Working Papers 9689, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ehrlich, Isaac, 1977. "Capital Punishment and Deterrence: Some Further Thoughts and Additional Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 741-88, August.
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