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Dealing with undocumented immigrants: the welfare effects of amnesties and deportations


  • Joël Machado

    () (CREA, Université du Luxembourg)


This paper aims to assess the effects of two different policies dealing with undocumented immigrants on agents’ welfare: amnesties and deportations. I develop a two-period overlapping generations model which accounts for the ex-ante production by undocumented workers and their partial contribution and access to public transfers. Additional channels, such as the discrimination on the labor market and a different productivity of regularized workers are also discussed. The impact of a migration policy strongly depends on the wage effects of the legalized/ deported workers and their net fiscal contribution. The calibration of the model for the United States in 2014 allows to disentangle the importance of the different channels at work. Overall the impact of the two policies on natives’ welfare is quite limited (between -0.1% and +0.15%). Retired agents benefit from an amnesty and are harmed by a deportation. The effect on workers is ambiguous and depends on the wage and fiscal effects in addition to the change in the returns on savings.

Suggested Citation

  • Joël Machado, 2017. "Dealing with undocumented immigrants: the welfare effects of amnesties and deportations," CREA Discussion Paper Series 17-11, Center for Research in Economic Analysis, University of Luxembourg.
  • Handle: RePEc:luc:wpaper:17-11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Cynthia Bansak, 2011. "The Impact of Amnesty on Labor Market Outcomes: A Panel Study Using the Legalized Population Survey," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(3), pages 443-471, July.
    2. Silvia Helena Barcellos, 2010. "Legalization and the Economic Status of Immigrants," Working Papers 754, RAND Corporation.
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    Cited by:

    1. Oded Stark & Lukasz Byra, 2020. "Can a deportation policy backfire?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 183(1), pages 29-41, April.
    2. Ortega, Francesc & Edwards, Ryan & Hsin, Amy, 2018. "The Economic Effects of Providing Legal Status to DREAMers," IZA Discussion Papers 11281, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

    More about this item


    undocumented immigration; amnesty; regularization; deportation; discrimination.;

    JEL classification:

    • F29 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Other
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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