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The Wage Impact of the Marielitos: Additional Evidence


  • George J. Borjas


Cardʼs (1990) study of the Mariel supply shock is an important contribution to the literature that measures the labor market impact of immigration. My recent reappraisal (Borjas, 2015) revealed that even the most cursory reexamination implied that the wage of low-skill (non-Hispanic) working men in Miami declined substantially in the years after Mariel. In the three months since the public release of my paper, there has already been one “re-reappraisal” of the evidence. Peri and Yasenov (2015) make a number of alternative methodological choices that lead them to conclude that Mariel did not have a wage impact. This paper isolates the source of the conflicting results. The main reasons for the divergence are that Peri and Yasenov calculate wage trends in a pooled sample of men and women, but ignore the contaminating effect of increasing female labor force participation. They also include non-Cuban Hispanics in the analysis, but ignore that at least a third of those Hispanics are foreign-born and arrived in the 1980s, further contaminating the calculated wage trend. And, most conspicuously, they include “workers” aged 16-18 in the sample. Because almost all of those “workers” are still enrolled in high school and lack a high school diploma, this very large population of high school students is systematically misclassified as high school dropouts. This fundamental error in data construction contaminates the analysis and helps hide the true effect of the Mariel supply shock.

Suggested Citation

  • George J. Borjas, 2016. "The Wage Impact of the Marielitos: Additional Evidence," NBER Working Papers 21850, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21850
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Giovanni Peri & Vasil Yasenov, 2015. "The Labor Market Effects of a Refugee Wave: Applying the Synthetic Control Method to the Mariel Boatlift," NBER Working Papers 21801, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Thomas Lemieux, 2006. "Increasing Residual Wage Inequality: Composition Effects, Noisy Data, or Rising Demand for Skill?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 461-498, June.
    3. George J. Borjas & Jeffrey Grogger & Gordon H. Hanson, 2008. "Imperfect Substitution between Immigrants and Natives: A Reappraisal," NBER Working Papers 13887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Rethinking The Effect Of Immigration On Wages," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Economics of International Migration, chapter 2, pages 35-80 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    5. George J. Borjas, 2003. "The Labor Demand Curve is Downward Sloping: Reexamining the Impact of Immigration on the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 9755, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Hamilton, James D, 1983. "Oil and the Macroeconomy since World War II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(2), pages 228-248, April.
    7. Abadie, Alberto & Diamond, Alexis & Hainmueller, Jens, 2010. "Synthetic Control Methods for Comparative Case Studies: Estimating the Effect of California’s Tobacco Control Program," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 105(490), pages 493-505.
    8. 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. George J. Borjas, 2017. "Still More On Mariel: The Role of Race," NBER Working Papers 23504, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Cebreros Zurita Carlos Alfonso;Chiquiar Daniel;Roa Mónica;Tobal Martín, 2017. "Notes to Understand Migration Policy with International Trade Theoretical Tools," Working Papers 2017-03, Banco de México.
    3. Thomas Kemeny & Abigail Cooke, 2018. "Spillovers from immigrant diversity in cities," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(1), pages 213-245.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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