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Taken by Storm: Hurricanes, Migrant Networks, and U.S. Immigration

Parag Mahajan, Dean Yang

NBER Working Paper No. 23756
Issued in August 2017
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Labor Studies

How readily do potential migrants respond to increased returns to migration? Even if origin areas become less attractive vis-à-vis migration destinations, fixed costs can prevent increased migration. We examine migration responses to hurricanes, which reduce the attractiveness of origin locations. Restricted-access U.S. Census data allows precise migration measures and analysis of more migrant-origin countries. Hurricanes increase U.S. immigration, with the effect increasing in the size of prior migrant stocks. Large migrant networks reduce fixed costs by facilitating legal immigration from hurricane-affected source countries. Hurricane-induced immigration can be fully accounted for by new legal permanent residents (“green card” holders).

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23756

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