NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Political Economy, Sectoral Shocks, and Border Enforcement

Gordon H. Hanson, Antonio Splimbergo

NBER Working Paper No. 7315
Issued in August 1999
NBER Program(s):   ITI

In this paper, we examine the correlation between sectoral shocks and border enforcement in the United States. Enforcement of national borders is the main policy instrument the U.S. government uses to combat illegal immigration. The motivation for the exercise is to see whether border enforcement falls following positive shocks to sectors that are intensive in the use of undocumented labor, as would be consistent with political economy models of how enforcement policy against illegal immigration is determined. The main finding is that border enforcement is negatively correlated with lagged relative price changes in the apparel, fruits and vegetables, and slaughtered livestock industries and with housing starts in the western United States. This suggests that authorities relax border enforcement when the demand for undocumented workers is high.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7315

Published: Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2001. "Political economy, sectoral shocks, and border enforcement," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(3), pages 612-638, August. citation courtesy of

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