Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border
We examine illegal immigration in the United States from Mexico over the period 1976-1995. One challenge is that we do not observe the number of individuals that attempt to enter the United States illegally; we only observe the number of individuals apprehended attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally. Based on a simple migration model, we postulate the existence of an apprehensions function, which expresses apprehensions at the border as a function of illegal attempts to cross the border and U.S. border-enforcement effort. We estimate a reduced-form apprehensions function using monthly data on apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border, person hours the U.S. Border Patrol spends policing the border, and wages in the United States and Mexico. We find that a 10% decrease in the Mexican real wage leads to a 7.5% to 8.8% increase in apprehensions at the border. Under plausible conditions this is a lower bound for the effect of the Mexican wage on attempted illegal immigration. It is the purchasing power of U.S. wages in Mexico, not the purchasing power of U.S. wages in the United States, that matters for border apprehensions, suggesting that migrants expect to maintain ties with Mexico. Border apprehensions are higher in the month following a large devaluation of the peso and higher when the change in the Mexican real wage is negative. Each additional hour the U.S. Border Patrol spends policing the border yields an additional 0.25 to 0.33 apprehensions.
|Date of creation:||May 1996|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published as American Economic Review, Vol. 89 (1999): 1337-1357.|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Ethier, Wilfred J, 1985. "International Trade and Labor Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 691-707, September.
- M. C. Burda, 1995.
"Migration and the Option Value of Waiting,"
SFB 373 Discussion Papers
1995,58, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
- George J. Borjas, 1992.
"National Origin and the Skills of Immigrants in the Postwar Period,"
in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 17-48
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- George J. Borjas, 1991. "National Origin and the Skills of Immigrants in the Postwar Period," NBER Working Papers 3575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, March.
- Ethier, Wilfred J, 1986. "Illegal Immigration: The Host-Country Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 56-71, March.
- George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
- Shaw, R Paul, 1986. "Fiscal versus Traditional Market Variables in Canadian Migration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(3), pages 648-66, June.
- George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman & Kevin Lang, 1991. "Undocumented Mexican-born Workers in the United States: How Many, How Permanent?," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade, and the Labor Market, pages 77-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5592. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.