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The Impact of Immigration on Native Poverty through Labor Market Competition

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  • Giovanni Peri

Abstract

In this paper I first analyze the wage effects of immigrants on native workers in the US economy and its top immigrant-receiving states and metropolitan areas. Then I quantify the consequences of these wage effects on the poverty rates of native families. The goal is to establish whether the labor market effects of immigrants have significantly affected the percentage of "poor" families among U.S.-born individuals. I consider the decade 2000-2009 during which poverty rates increased significantly in the U.S. As a reference, I also analyze the decade 1990-2000. To calculate the wage impact of immigrants I adopt a simple general equilibrium model of productive interactions, regulated by the elasticity of substitution across schooling groups, age groups and between US and foreign-born workers. Considering the inflow of immigrants by age, schooling and location I evaluate their impact in local markets (cities and states) assuming no mobility of natives and on the US market as a whole allowing for native internal mobility. Our findings show that for all plausible parameter values there is essentially no effect of immigration on native poverty at the national level. At the local level, only considering the most extreme estimates and only in some localities, we find non-trivial effects of immigration on poverty. In general, however, even the local effects of immigration bear very little correlation with the observed changes in poverty rates and they explain a negligible fraction of them.

Suggested Citation

  • Giovanni Peri, 2011. "The Impact of Immigration on Native Poverty through Labor Market Competition," NBER Working Papers 17570, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17570
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17570.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
    2. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
    3. David Card, 2009. "Immigration and Inequality," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 0907, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    4. Moretti, Enrico, 2004. "Estimating the social return to higher education: evidence from longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 175-212.
    5. Angrist, Joshua D, 1995. "The Economic Returns to Schooling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1065-1087, December.
    6. Iranzo, Susana & Peri, Giovanni, 2009. "Migration and trade: Theory with an application to the Eastern-Western European integration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 1-19, September.
    7. Antonio Ciccone & Giovanni Peri, 2005. "Long-Run Substitutability Between More and Less Educated Workers: Evidence from U.S. States, 1950-1990," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 652-663, November.
    8. Frederic DOCQUIER & Çaglar OZDEN & Giovanni PERI, 2010. "The Wage Effects of Immigration and Emigration," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2010044, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    9. George J. Borjas & Lawrence F. Katz, 2007. "The Evolution of the Mexican-Born Workforce in the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 13-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1335-1374.
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    Cited by:

    1. Blake Sisk & Carl Bankston, 2014. "Hurricane Katrina, a Construction Boom, and a New Labor Force: Latino Immigrants and the New Orleans Construction Industry, 2000 and 2006–2010," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 33(3), pages 309-334, June.
    2. Joo, Myungkook, 2013. "Explaining heterogeneity in the child poverty rate among immigrant families: Differences by parental citizenship," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 668-677.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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