Barsbai, Licuanan, Steinmayr, Tiongson, and Yang study a randomly-assigned program providing information on U.S. settlement for new Filipino immigrants. Improved information leads immigrants to acquire fewer new social network connections (16-28% fewer new friends and acquaintances and 65% lower probability of receiving support from immigrant organizations) and has no effect on employment or subjective wellbeing. Consistent with a simple model, the treatment reduces social network links more when costs of acquiring network links are lower. Information and social network links appear to be substitutes in this context. Offsetting reductions in acquisition of social network connections can reduce the effectiveness of information interventions.
This paper was distributed as Working Paper 27346, where an updated version may be available.
While current debates center on whether and how to admit immigrants to the United States, little attention has been paid to interventions designed to help immigrants integrate after they arrive. Public adult education programs are the primary policy lever for building the language skills of the over 23 million adults with limited English proficiency in the United States. Heller and Slungaard Mumma leverage the enrollment lottery of a publicly-funded adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program in Massachusetts to estimate the effects of English language training on voting behavior and employer-reported earnings. Attending ESOL classes more than doubles rates of voter registration and increases annual earnings by $2,400 (56%). The researchers estimate that increased tax revenue from earnings gains fully pay for program costs over time, generating a 6% annual return for taxpayers. Their results demonstrate the social value of post-migration investments in the human capital of adult immigrants.
This paper argues that firm entry and exit play critical roles in determining how immigrant workers are absorbed into and affect local industries. Using a comprehensive collection of survey and administrative data from the U.S. Census Bureau, it documents a positive relationship between immigrant workers and business presence, with inflows driving entry across the size distribution and preventing exit by older, large firms. These extensive margin responses play a dominant role in immigrant worker absorption, accounting for more than two-thirds of immigrant-induced job creation. Observed proxies for productivity further reveal an important heterogeneity: immigrant inflows increase the probability of exit by lower-productivity firms and decrease the probability of exit by higher-productivity firms, with the latter effect driving the overall reduction in firm exit. A general equilibrium model proposes a mechanism that ties immigrant workers to high-productivity firms and shows how accounting for heterogeneous firm entry and exit can yield substantially larger estimates of immigrant-generated economic surplus than canonical models of labor demand.
Between 2014 and 2018, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted approximately half a million arrests in the interior of the country—an effort that overwhelmingly affected Hispanic immigrants and, in many cases, their US-born children. This study evaluates how immigration arrests impact the labor supply of US-born Hispanic adolescent youth living in mixed-status families. Specifically, Rubalcaba, Bucheli, and Morales investigate how forced family separation, through immigration-related arrests, induces adolescent youth to enter the labor market as a means to smooth the exogenous shock to parental labor supply. Their analysis provides evidence that the intensification in immigration enforcement activities, as captured by a sudden increase local in ICE arrests, has led to an increase in the labor supply of US-born Hispanic adolescents (age 15 to 18) living in mixed-status families. The researchers also observe a notable differential response by gender. Specifically, the shift in labor supply among adolescent women was concentrated along the extensive margin (labor force participation), while the shift in labor supply among adolescent men was concentrated along the intensive margin (hours worked). In addition to the labor and immigration literature, their work contributes to an emerging literature on the unintended consequences of immigration enforcement on US-citizen adolescent youth. To Rubalcaba, Bucheli, and Morales's knowledge, this is the first study to examine how immigration arrests shift labor supply behavior of US-citizen Hispanic adolescent youth in mixed-status families.
East, Hines, Luck, Mansour, and Velásquez examine the labor market effects of Secure Communities (SC)-an immigration enforcement policy which led to over 454,000 deportations between 2008-2014. Using a difference-in-differences model that takes advantage of the staggered rollout of SC, the researchers find that SC significantly decreased the employment share of likely undocumented male immigrants. The policy also led to a decrease in the employment rate of citizens. The employment effects on citizens are concentrated among males working in medium-skilled occupations, particularly in sectors that traditionally rely on likely undocumented workers. The results are consistent with complementarities in production between low-skilled immigrants and higher-skilled citizens.
Cascio and Lewis examine how the large, one-time legalization authorized by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) has affected the scale and character of immigration to the U.S. since the late 1980s. Exploiting cross-country variation in the magnitude of the legalization shock, the researchers find that each IRCA admit accounts for the subsequent admission of 1 to 2 family members, mostly immediate family. There is little evidence that the legalization increased subsequent unauthorized migration; in fact, fewer temporary visa overstays have somewhat offset the additional family admissions. The marginal family-sponsored admit has not been negatively selected and has not increased fiscal burdens.
Figlio, Giuliano, Marchingiglio, Sapienza, and Özek study the effect of exposure to immigrants on the educational outcomes of US-born students, using a unique dataset combining birth records and population-level administrative data from the Florida Department of Education. The researchers focus on the cumulative cohort-school-specific exposure to foreign-born students throughout the students' educational career and they identify their parameter of interest by comparing siblings' performances in standardized test scores in mathematics and reading. Using an identification strategy to partial out the unobserved non-random selection into schools, Figlio, Giuliano, Marchingiglio, Sapienza, and Özek find that the presence of immigrant students correlates positively with the academic achievement of US-born students, especially the disadvantaged ones. Moreover, the presence of immigrants does not affect negatively the performance of affluent US-born students, who typically show a higher academic achievement compared to their immigrant schoolmates. Figlio, Giuliano, Marchingiglio, Sapienza, and Özek provide suggestive evidence on potential channels.
This paper examines how firms adjust their labor demand to changes in immigration policy. Using a novel panel data on firms’ H-2B visa applications and exploiting the temporal and geographic variation in the adoption of tougher immigration enforcement, Amuedo-Dorantes, Arenas Arroyo, and Schmidpeter find that firms request fewer low-skilled workers under the H-2B program in response to stricter immigration enforcement, even though more firms are participating in the program. The reduced demand for workers under the H-2B program appears to be driven by firms whose prior H-2B worker requests had been only partially certified, and by a decrease in very large labor requests. Altogether, the results point to higher recruiting costs as the likely explanation. Stricter immigration enforcement creates labor shortages that push firms to search for low-skilled labor through the H-2B program; however, the bureaucracy, uncertainty, and higher costs associated to that recruitment process deters them from requesting a larger number of workers.