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Measuring Immigration's Effects on Labor Demand: A Reexamination of the Mariel Boatlift

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  • Bodvarsson, Örn B.

    () (California State University, Sacramento)

  • Lewer, Joshua J.

    () (Bradley University)

  • Van den Berg, Hendrik

    () (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Abstract

It is now well known that exogenous immigration shocks tend to have benign effects on native employment outcomes, thanks to various secondary adjustment processes made possible by flexible markets. One adjustment process that has received scant attention is that immigrants, as consumers of the goods they help produce, contribute to their own demand. We examine the effects of an immigration shock on labor demand by testing a general equilibrium model in which imperfectly substitutable native and immigrant workers spend their wages on a locally produced good. The shock induces three responses: (i) a substitution of immigrants for natives; (ii) out-migration; and (iii) stimulation of labor demand. According to (iii), native wages can fall, stay the same or rise, depending upon the strength of the shock and various product and factor market elasticities. As our test case, we reexamine the 1980 “Mariel Boatlift,” using Wacziarg’s “Channel Transmission” methodology. Our data set includes approximately 6,600 observations for 1979-85 from the Current Population Survey on workers in 9 different retail labor markets and Survey of Buying Power data on retail spending by consumers in Miami and four comparison cities. Our results provide a more complete explanation for why the Boatlift’s overall effects on native wages in Miami were benign: Lower wages due to greater labor supply were offset by higher wages due to greater labor demand. We conclude that the demand-augmenting effect of an immigration shock is a significant secondary adjustment process that must be considered when assessing the distributional effects of immigration.

Suggested Citation

  • Bodvarsson, Örn B. & Lewer, Joshua J. & Van den Berg, Hendrik, 2007. "Measuring Immigration's Effects on Labor Demand: A Reexamination of the Mariel Boatlift," IZA Discussion Papers 2919, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2919
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    Cited by:

    1. Susanne Prantl & Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2013. "Interacting Product and Labor Market Regulation and the Impact of Immigration on Native Wages," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_22, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    2. repec:eee:eecrev:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:282-315 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Latif, Ehsan, 2015. "The relationship between immigration and unemployment: Panel data evidence from Canada," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 162-167.
    4. Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2016. "Monopsony, minimum wages and migration," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 221-237.
    5. Michael Gerfin & Boris Kaiser, 2010. "The Effects of Immigration on Wages: An Application of the Structural Skill-Cell Approach," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 146(IV), pages 709-739, December.
    6. Henri L.F. de Groot & Jacques Poot & Martijn J. Smit, 2007. "Agglomeration, Innovation and Regional Development: Theoretical Perspectives and Meta-Analysis," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 07-079/3, Tinbergen Institute.
    7. Michael Clemens, 2013. "The Effect of Foreign Labor on Native Employment: A Job-Specific Approach and Application to North Carolina Farms- Working Paper 326," Working Papers 326, Center for Global Development.
    8. Aydemir, Abdurrahman B. & Kırdar, Murat G., 2017. "Quasi-experimental impact estimates of immigrant labor supply shocks: The role of treatment and comparison group matching and relative skill composition," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 282-315.
    9. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:101-132 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Chletsos, Michael & Roupakias, Stelios, 2012. "Immigration, Unemployment and Growth: Empirical Evidence from Greece," MPRA Paper 39861, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Mazzolari, Francesca & Numark, David, 2009. "The Effects of Immigration on the Scale and Composition of Demand: A study of California establishments," MPRA Paper 19217, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Chletsos, Michael & Roupakias, Stelios, 2012. "The impact of immigration on the greek labor market," MPRA Paper 39872, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Tito Boeri & Marta De Philippis & Eleonora Patacchini & Michele Pelizzari, 2010. "Moving to Segregation: Evidence from 8 Italian cities," EIEF Working Papers Series 1109, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Apr 2011.
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    15. Tito Boeri & Marta De Philippis & Eleonora Patacchini & Michele Pellizzari, 2011. "Immigration, Housing Discrimination and Employment," Working Papers 390, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
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    17. Marcus H. Böhme & Sarah Kups, 2017. "The economic effects of labour immigration in developing countries: A literature review," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 335, OECD Publishing.
    18. Murat Genc & Selim Cagatay & Onur A. Koska & Perihan O. Saygin, 2013. "Immigration, Enterprises, and Employment in the European Union," EcoMod2013 5694, EcoMod.
    19. Adriana Kugler & Mutlu Yuksel, 2008. "Effects of Low-Skilled Immigration on U.S. Natives: Evidence from Hurricane Mitch," NBER Working Papers 14293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; demand; transmission channels; wages;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration

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