Admission and rejection

Kevin Lewis

November 15, 2019

Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants in the US over Two Centuries
Ran Abramitzky et al.
NBER Working Paper, October 2019

Using millions of father-son pairs spanning more than 100 years of US history, we find that children of immigrants from nearly every sending country have higher rates of upward mobility than children of the US-born. Immigrants’ advantage is similar historically and today despite dramatic shifts in sending countries and US immigration policy. In the past, this advantage can be explained by immigrants moving to areas with better prospects for their children and by “under-placement” of the first generation in the income distribution. These findings are consistent with the “American Dream” view that even poorer immigrants can improve their children’s prospects.

Can a deportation policy backfire?
Oded Stark & Lukasz Byra
Public Choice, forthcoming

Drawing on a model in which utility is derived from consumption and effort (labor supply), we ask how the deportation of a number of undocumented migrants influences the decisions regarding labor supply, consumption, and savings of the remaining undocumented migrants. We assume that the intensity of deportation serves as an indicator to the remaining undocumented migrants when they assess the probability of being deported. We find that a higher rate of deportation induces undocumented migrants to work harder, consume less and, as a result of those responses, to save more. Assuming that the purpose of deportation policy is to reduce the aggregate labor supply of undocumented migrants in order to raise the wages of low-skilled native workers, we conclude that the policy can backfire: an increase in the labor supply of the remaining undocumented migrants can more than offset the reduction in the labor supply arising from the deportation of some undocumented migrants. Simulation shows that if the number of deportations in relation to the size of the undocumented migrant workforce is small, then the combined effect of the reduction in the labor supply of the deportees and the increase in the labor supply of the remaining undocumented migrants can be that the aggregate labor supply of undocumented migrants will increase. It follows that an effective deportation policy has to involve the expulsion of a substantial proportion of the total number of undocumented migrants in the workforce.

The Labor Market Effects of Mexican Repatriations: Longitudinal Evidence from the 1930s
Jongkwan Lee, Giovanni Peri & Vasil Yasenov
NBER Working Paper, October 2019

We examine the labor market consequences of an extensive campaign repatriating around 400,000 Mexicans in 1929-34. To identify a causal effect, we instrument county level repatriations with the existence of a railway line to Mexico interacted with the size of the Mexican communities in 1910. Using individual linked data we find that Mexican repatriations reduced employment of native incumbent workers and resulted in their occupational downgrading. However, using a repeated cross section of county level data, we find attenuated and non-significant employment effects and amplified wage downgrading. We show that this is due to selective in- and out-migration of natives.

'Descended from Immigrants and Revolutionists': How Family Immigration History Shapes Representation in Congress
James Feigenbaum, Maxwell Palmer & Benjamin Schneer
Harvard Working Paper, September 2019

Does recent immigrant lineage influence the legislative behavior of members of Congress on immigration policy? We examine the relationship between the immigrant background of legislators (i.e., their generational distance from immigration) and legislative behavior, focusing on roll-call votes for landmark immigration legislation and congressional speech on the floor. Legislators more proximate to the immigrant experience tend to support more permissive immigration legislation. Legislators with recent immigration backgrounds also speak more often about immigration in Congress, though the size of immigrant constituencies in their districts accounts for a larger share of this effect. A regression discontinuity design on close elections, which addresses selection bias concerns and holds district composition constant, confirms that legislators with recent immigrant backgrounds tend to support pro-immigration legislation. Finally, we demonstrate how a common immigrant identity can break down along narrower ethnic lines in cases where restrictive legislation targets specific places of origin. Our findings illustrate the important role of immigrant identity in legislative behavior and help illuminate the legislative dynamics of present-day immigration policy.

Immigration and Recidivism: What Is the Link?
Javier Ramos & Marin Wenger
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Empirical research shows that immigrants have lower rates of offending, arrest, and incarceration than the native-born. However, previous work has not examined whether this relationship extends to recidivism. The current study addresses this gap in the literature by comparing recidivism outcomes of 192,556 formerly incarcerated native- and foreign-born individuals released from Florida prisons. Using multiple analytic methods, including logistic regression, propensity score matching, and survival analysis, we find that immigrants are less likely to reoffend than their native-born peers. We conclude with a discussion of our study’s findings for future research and policy and practice.

Electoral cycles, partisan effects and US naturalization policies
Marcus Drometer & Romuald Méango
Public Choice, forthcoming

Using a panel of naturalizations in the United States from 1965 to 2012, we empirically analyze the impact of elections on naturalization policy. Our results indicate that naturalization policy is (partly) driven by national elections: there are more naturalizations in presidential election years and during the terms of Democratic incumbents. To disentangle the effect of government policies from changes in the demand for naturalizations, we examine how the acceptance rate of naturalization petitions is affected by elections. The analysis reveals that the acceptance rate is much higher under Democratic incumbents with the strongest increase during the years that are closer to the next presidential election. In contrast, (almost) no variation is found under a Republican incumbent. We then investigate the dynamics of an incumbent’s behavior over the course of his term in detail. Our findings indicate that the effects are more pronounced in politically contested states, in states with many migrants and for immigrants originating from Latin America.

Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your High-Skilled Labor: H-1B Lottery Outcomes and Entrepreneurial Success
Stephen Dimmock, Jiekun Huang & Scott Weisbenner
NBER Working Paper, October 2019

We study how access to high-skill labor affects the outcomes of start-up firms. We obtain exogenous variation in firms’ ability to access skilled labor by using win rates in H-1B visa lotteries. Relative to other firms that also applied for H-1B visas, firms with higher lottery win rates are more likely to receive additional venture capital funding and to have a successful exit via an IPO or acquisition. H-1B visa lottery winners also subsequently receive more patents and patent citations. Overall, our results show that access to high-skill labor is a critical determinant of success for start-up firms.

Unpacking Representation in State Immigration Policy: Latino Composition, White Racial Threat, and Legislator Partisanship
James Avery & Jeffrey Fine
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

Most research studying minority representation concludes that minorities enjoy better representation when they constitute a larger share of a constituency, but only through the partisanship and race/ethnicity of the representative. Other research finds that minorities receive worse representation when they constitute a larger share of a constituency. We argue that minority composition will have an independent effect on representation, but that this effect will differ depending on the representative’s partisanship. We apply our theory to Latino composition and state legislative voting on immigration policy and find that Latino composition has no effect on voting among Democratic legislators, who are less likely to vote in a restrictive direction on immigration than Republicans regardless of the Latino composition in their district. However, Republicans are more likely to vote to restrict immigration as Latinos comprise a larger share of their district. Our findings suggest that scholars should consider the moderating effect of legislator partisanship when examining minority composition and representation.

Immigrants' Changing Labor Market Assimilation in the United States during the Age of Mass Migration
William Collins & Ariell Zimran
NBER Working Paper, October 2019

Whether immigrants advance in labor markets relative to natives as they gain experience is a fundamental question in the economics of immigration. For the US, it has been difficult to answer this question for the period when the immigration rate was at its historical peak, between the 1840s and 1920s. We develop new datasets of linked census records for foreign- and native-born men in 1850-80 and 1900-30. We find that for the nineteenth century cohort, there is evidence of substantial “catching up” by immigrants in terms of occupational status, but for the twentieth century cohort there is not. These changes do not reflect the shift in source countries from Northern and Western Europe to Southern and Eastern Europe. Instead, we find that natives had advantages in upgrading relative to immigrants conditional on initial occupation in both periods, but that by 1900, natives were less concentrated than previously in jobs with low upward mobility (farming) and more concentrated in jobs with lower initial status but higher upward mobility. The difference in assimilation over time is thus rooted in a sizable change in native men’s occupational distribution between 1850 and 1900. These results revise the oversimplified but influential view that historical immigrants “worked their way up” in the American labor market.

Immigrant to citizen: Identity concerns regarding immigrants’ motivation to naturalize
Ludwin Molina & Nur Soylu Yalçınkaya
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, forthcoming

Objectives: The present research examines U.S. lawful permanent residents’ (LPRs) motivations to apply for U.S. citizenship (i.e., naturalize).

Method: Study 1 (N = 180; 61% male) LPRs have a mean age of M = 30.78, SD = 8.25. Participants completed a survey. Sixty-seven participants indicated their country of birth as a Central/South American or Caribbean country, 40 as a European country, 44 as an Asian country, 16 as a Southeast Asian or Middle Eastern country, and 13 as an African country. Study 2 (N = 218; 56% male) LPRs have a mean age of M = 30.33, SD = 8.37. Participants completed an experiment. Eighty-three participants indicated their country of birth as a Central/South American or Caribbean country, 55 as a European country, 37 as a Southeast Asian or Middle Eastern country, 31 as an Asian country, and 12 as an African country.

Results: Study 1 demonstrates that identity concerns, above and beyond perceived realistic concerns, are significantly related to motivation to naturalize. In particular, perception of belonging to the U.S. is positively related to a motivation to naturalize. Moreover, we test a theory-driven model such that higher perceptions of subgroup respect are positively related to a sense of U.S. belonging which, in turn, predicts a motivation to naturalize. Study 2 extends the previous study by manipulating subgroup respect and demonstrating that this affects a sense of belonging to the U.S. which, in turn, predicts a stronger motivation to naturalize.

Psychiatric problems among returned migrants in Mexico: Updated findings from the Mexican Migration Project
Kyle Waldman, Julia Shu-Huah Wang & Hans Oh
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, October 2019, Pages 1285–1294

Methods: Data from the Mexican Migration Project were used to compare returned migrants and non-migrants in Mexico for the years 2007–2016 (N = 7716). Random intercept logistic regression models were used to estimate the associations between characteristics of migration and psychiatric problems. Coarsened exact matching was implemented to account for the selection bias inherent to migration.

Results: Relatively healthier Mexicans were more likely to migrate to the United States, regardless of their documentation status. Returned migrants in Mexico who traveled to the United States while undocumented were significantly more likely to report that they experienced psychiatric problems when compared with non-migrant Mexicans, even after adjusting for demographic, socioeconomic, pre-migration health, and community-level factors.


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