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Immigration Restrictions as Active Labor Market Policy: Evidence from the Mexican Bracero Exclusion

Listed author(s):
  • Michael A. Clemens
  • Ethan G. Lewis
  • Hannah M. Postel

There has been little rigorous evaluation of immigration barriers intended to improve domestic terms of employment by shrinking the workforce. We study one such barrier, a policy change that excluded almost half a million Mexican bracero seasonal agricultural workers from the United States. Using novel data to measure state-level exposure to the policy, we reject the wage effect of bracero exclusion predicted by theory in the absence of induced technical change. We fail to reject the hypothesis that exclusion did not affect U.S. agricultural wages or employment. Important mechanisms include adoption of less labor-intensive technologies and shifts in crop mix.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23125.

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Date of creation: Feb 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23125
Note: DAE LS
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  1. Mette Foged & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Immigrants' Effect on Native Workers: New Analysis on Longitudinal Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 1-34, April.
  2. Rachel M. Friedberg, 2001. "The Impact of Mass Migration on the Israeli Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1373-1408.
  3. Devadoss, Stephen & Luckstead, Jeff, 2008. "Contributions of Immigrant Farmworkers to California Vegetable Production," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 40(03), pages 879-894, December.
  4. Devadoss, Stephen & Luckstead, Jeff, 2008. "Contributions of Immigrant Farmworkers to California Vegetable Production," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 40(03), December.
  5. Paul Beaudry & David A. Green, 2003. "Wages and Employment in the United States and Germany: What Explains the Differences?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 573-602, June.
  6. Berthold Herrendorf & Christopher Herrington & Ákos Valentinyi, 2015. "Sectoral Technology and Structural Transformation," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 104-133, October.
  7. Brian C. Cadena & Brian K. Kovak, 2016. "Immigrants Equilibrate Local Labor Markets: Evidence from the Great Recession," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 257-290, January.
  8. W. Walker Hanlon, 2015. "Necessity Is the Mother of Invention: Input Supplies and Directed Technical Change," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 67-100, 01.
  9. Andreas Beerli & Giovanni Peri, 2015. "The Labor Market Effects of Opening the Border: New Evidence from Switzerland," NBER Working Papers 21319, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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