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The Labor Market Effects of a Refugee Wave: Applying the Synthetic Control Method to the Mariel Boatlift

Listed author(s):
  • Giovanni Peri
  • Vasil Yasenov

We apply the Synthetic Control Method to re-examine the labor market effects of the Mariel Boatlift, first studied by David Card (1990). This method improves on previous studies by choosing a control group of cities that best matches Miami’s labor market trends pre-Boatlift and providing more reliable inference. Using a sample of non-Cuban high-school dropouts we find no significant difference in the wages of workers in Miami relative to its control after 1980. We also show that by focusing on small sub-samples and matching the control group on a short pre-1979 series, as done in Borjas (2017), one can find large wage differences between Miami and control because of large measurement error.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 21801.

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Date of creation: Dec 2015
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21801
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  1. 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.
  2. Angrist, Joshua D. & Krueger, Alan B., 1999. "Empirical strategies in labor economics," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 23, pages 1277-1366 Elsevier.
  3. David Card, 2009. "Immigration and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 1-21, May.
  4. Alberto Abadie & Javier Gardeazabal, 2003. "The Economic Costs of Conflict: A Case Study of the Basque Country," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 113-132, March.
  5. Christian Dustmann & Tommaso Frattini & Ian P. Preston, 2013. "The Effect of Immigration along the Distribution of Wages," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(1), pages 145-173.
  6. Giovanni Peri, 2014. "Do immigrant workers depress the wages of native workers?," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-42, May.
  7. Gilles Duranton & J. V. Henderson & William C. Strange (ed.), 2015. "Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 5, number 5.
  8. Card, David, 2001. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 22-64, January.
  9. Bodvarsson, Örn B. & Van den Berg, Hendrik F. & Lewer, Joshua J., 2008. "Measuring immigration's effects on labor demand: A reexamination of the Mariel Boatlift," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 560-574, August.
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