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Where Do U.S. Immigrants Come From, and Why?

  • Ximena Clark
  • Timothy J. Hatton
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

The United States has experienced rising immigration levels and changing source since the 1950s. The changes in source have been attributed to the 1965 Amendments to the Immigration Act that abolished country-quotas and replaced them with a system that emphasized family reunification. Some believed that the Amendments would not change the 'traditional' sources of US immigrants. Given this view, it seems all the more remarkable that the sources of immigration changed so dramatically. This paper isolates the economic and demographic fundamentals that determined immigration rates by source from 1971 to 1998 -- income, education, demographic composition and inequality. The paper also allows for persistence - big US foreign-born stocks implying a strong 'friends and neighbors' pull on current immigrant flows. Specific policy variables are included which are derived directly from the quotas allocated to different visa categories. Parameter estimates from the panel data are then used to implement counterfactual simulations that serve to isolate the effects of immigration policy as well as source-country economic and demographic conditions.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8998.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8998.

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Date of creation: Jun 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8998
Note: DAE ITI
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  1. Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2003. "Demographic and Economic Pressure on Emigration out of Africa," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 105(3), pages 465-486, 09.
  2. Chiswick, Barry R., 2000. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected? An Economic Analysis," IZA Discussion Papers 131, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Guillermina Jasso & Mark R. Rosenzweig & James P. Smith, 2000. "The Changing Skill of New Immigrants to the United States: Recent Trends and Their Determinants," NBER Chapters, in: Issues in the Economics of Immigration, pages 185-226 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. David Karemera & Victor Iwuagwu Oguledo & Bobby Davis, 2000. "A gravity model analysis of international migration to North America," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(13), pages 1745-1755.
  5. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 2248, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
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