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Border Enforcement and Selection of Mexican Immigrants in the United States

Author

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  • Lozano, Fernando A.

    () (Pomona College)

  • Lopez, Mary J.

    () (Occidental College)

Abstract

Since 1986 the United States has made considerable efforts to curb illegal immigration. This has resulted in an increase in migration costs for undocumented immigrants. More stringent border enforcement either deters potential illegal immigrants from coming to the U.S., or moves the point of crossing for illegal immigrants from traditional crossing routes to more inhospitable routes. These changes are likely to place a heavier burden on illegal immigrant women as they are more likely to be kidnapped, smuggled, or raped when crossing illegally. If migration costs are not the same for all migrants, higher migrating costs may result in a change in the number and in the composition of immigrants to the United States. In the face of higher migration costs, only immigrants with relatively high expected benefits of migration will choose to migrate. Based on our theoretical model, we test for three empirical results that are associated with a stronger selection of immigrant women from Mexico relative to men as a result of higher migration costs: 1) A decrease in the relative flow of older and highly educated undocumented immigrant women relative to men; 2) A change in the skill composition of immigrant women to men; and 3) An increase in the average earnings of those groups most affected by increased migration costs. Using data from the 1990, 2000 Decennial Census, and from the 2006-2008 American Community Survey we empirically confirm these predictions.

Suggested Citation

  • Lozano, Fernando A. & Lopez, Mary J., 2010. "Border Enforcement and Selection of Mexican Immigrants in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 4898, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4898
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Claudia Olivetti & Barbara Petrongolo, 2008. "Unequal Pay or Unequal Employment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Gender Gaps," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(4), pages 621-654, October.
    2. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A, 1993. "Immigrant Selectivity and Wages: The Evidence for Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 986-993, September.
    3. Gordon H. Hanson, 2006. "Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(4), pages 869-924, December.
    4. Oded Stark & J. Taylor, 1989. "Relative deprivation and international migration oded stark," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(1), pages 1-14, February.
    5. Lopez-Acevedo, Gladys, 2006. "Mexico : two decades of the evolution of education and inequality," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3919, The World Bank.
    6. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2007. "Gender and Assimilation Among Mexican Americans," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 57-106 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Markus Mobius & Raphael Schoenle, 2006. "The Evolution of Work," NBER Working Papers 12694, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah Bohn & Todd Pugatch, 2015. "U.S. Border Enforcement and Mexican Immigrant Location Choice," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 52(5), pages 1543-1570, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; gender; selection; border enforcement;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

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