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The Employment Effects of Mexican Repatriations: Evidence from the 1930's

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

During the period 1929-34 a campaign forcing the repatriation of Mexicans and Mexican Americans was carried out in the U.S. by states and local authorities. The claim of politicians at the time was that repatriations would reduce local unemployment and give jobs to Americans, alleviating the local effects of the Great Depression. This paper uses this episode to examine the consequences of Mexican repatriations on labor market outcomes of natives. Analyzing 893 cities using full count decennial Census data in the period 1930-40, we find that repatriation of Mexicans was associated with small decreases in native employment and increases in native unemployment. These results are robust to the inclusion of many controls. We then apply an instrumental variable strategy based on the differential size of Mexican communities in 1930, as well as a matching method, to estimate a causal "average treatment effect." Confirming the OLS regressions, the causal estimates do not support the claim that repatriations had any expansionary effects on native employment, but suggest instead that they had no effect on, or possibly depressed, their employment and wages.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23885.

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Date of creation: Sep 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23885
Note: DAE LE 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. 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.
  3. Giovanni Peri & Chad Sparber, 2016. "Task Specialization, Immigration, and Wages," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Economics of International Migration, chapter 3, pages 81-115 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
  4. Peri, Giovanni & Yasenov, Vasil, 2017. "The Labor Market Effects of a Refugee Wave: Synthetic Control Method Meets the Mariel Boatlift," IZA Discussion Papers 10605, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. George J. Borjas, 2007. "Mexican Immigration to the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number borj06-1, November.
  6. Leah Platt Boustan & Price V. Fishback & Shawn Kantor, 2010. "The Effect of Internal Migration on Local Labor Markets:American Cities during the Great Depression," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 719-746, October.
  7. Abadie, Alberto & Imbens, Guido W., 2011. "Bias-Corrected Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 29(1), pages 1-11.
  8. Abdurrahman Aydemir & George J. Borjas, 2011. "Attenuation Bias in Measuring the Wage Impact of Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 69-113, January.
  9. William R. Kerr & William F. Lincoln, 2010. "The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and U.S. Ethnic Invention," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 473-508, July.
  10. George J. Borjas, 2007. "Introduction to "Mexican Immigration to the United States"," NBER Chapters,in: Mexican Immigration to the United States, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Guido W. Imbens, 2015. "Matching Methods in Practice: Three Examples," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(2), pages 373-419.
  12. Basso, Gaetano & Peri, Giovanni, 2015. "The Association between Immigration and Labor Market Outcomes in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 9436, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Borjas, George J. (ed.), 2007. "Mexican Immigration to the United States," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 2, number 9780226066325, April.
  14. Brian Gratton & Emily Merchant, 2013. "Immigration, Repatriation, and Deportation: The Mexican-Origin Population in the United States, 1920–1950," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(4), pages 944-975, December.
  15. 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.
  16. repec:sae:ilrrev:v:70:y:2017:i:5:p:1077-1110 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. 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..
  18. Fishback, Price V. & Horrace, William C. & Kantor, Shawn, 2005. "Did New Deal Grant Programs Stimulate Local Economies? A Study of Federal Grants and Retail Sales During the Great Depression," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 65(01), pages 36-71, March.
  19. Giovanni Peri & Kevin Shih & Chad Sparber, 2015. "STEM Workers, H-1B Visas, and Productivity in US Cities," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(S1), pages 225-255.
  20. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2006. "Large Sample Properties of Matching Estimators for Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(1), pages 235-267, January.
  21. Ethan Lewis, 2011. "Immigration, Skill Mix, and Capital Skill Complementarity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 1029-1069.
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