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The Labor Market Effects of Refugee Waves: Reconciling Conflicting Results

Listed author(s):
  • Clemens, Michael A.

    ()

    (Center for Global Development)

  • Hunt, Jennifer

    ()

    (Rutgers University)

An influential strand of research has tested for the effects of immigration on natives' wages and employment using exogenous refugee supply shocks as natural experiments. Several studies have reached conflicting conclusions about the effects of noted refugee waves such as the Mariel Boatlift in Miami and post-Soviet refugees to Israel. We show that conflicting findings on the effects of the Mariel Boatlift can be explained by a sudden change in the race composition of the Current Population Survey extracts in 1980, specific to Miami but unrelated to the Boatlift. We also show that conflicting findings on the labor-market effects of other important refugee waves can be produced by spurious correlation between the instrument and the endogenous variable introduced by applying a common divisor to both. As a whole, the evidence from refugee waves reinforces the existing consensus that the impact of immigration on average native-born workers is small, and fails to substantiate claims of large detrimental impacts on workers with less than high school.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10806.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: May 2017
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10806
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  1. MacKinnon, James G & Magee, Lonnie, 1990. "Transforming the Dependent Variable in Regression Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 31(2), pages 315-339, May.
  2. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2011. "Economic Impacts of Immigration: A Survey," Finnish Economic Papers, Finnish Economic Association, vol. 24(1), pages 1-32, Spring.
  3. Kleibergen, Frank & Paap, Richard, 2006. "Generalized reduced rank tests using the singular value decomposition," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 133(1), pages 97-126, July.
  4. David Card, 1990. "The Impact of the Mariel Boatlift on the Miami Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
  5. Rachel M. Friedberg, 2001. "The Impact of Mass Migration on the Israeli Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1373-1408.
  6. Jennifer Hunt, 1992. "The Impact of the 1962 Repatriates from Algeria on the French Labor Market," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 45(3), pages 556-572, April.
  7. Walter S. McManus, 1990. "Labor Market Effects of Language Enclaves: Hispanic Men in the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 25(2), pages 228-252.
  8. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Immigrants, Minorities, and Labor Market Competition," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 40(3), pages 382-392, April.
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