Crossing the Border

Kevin Lewis

February 15, 2010

Declining Return Migration from the United States to Mexico in the late-2000s Recession

Michael Rendall, Peter Brownell & Sarah Kups
RAND Working Paper, December 2009

Researchers in the U.S. and Mexico have variously asserted that return migration from the U.S. to Mexico has increased substantially, remained unchanged, or declined slightly in response to the 2007-2009 U.S. recession and global financial crisis. The present study addresses this debate using microdata through mid-2009 from a large-scale, quarterly Mexican household survey, the National Survey of Occupation and Employment (ENOE), after first validating the ENOE against return migration estimates from a specialist demographic survey, the 2006 National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID). No evidence of increased return migration is found. Statistically significant declines in return migration, however, are found between the immediately prerecession 2006/07 year and the 2008/09 recession year, and between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the fourth quarter of 2008 when the global financial crisis had just been triggered.


Immigrant political incorporation: Comparing success in the United States and Western Europe

John Mollenkopf & Jennifer Hochschild
Ethnic and Racial Studies, January 2010, Pages 19-38

Despite reasons to expect otherwise, immigrant political incorporation occurs more rapidly in the United States than in many Western European states. We provide evidence to support that contentious statement and reasons to explain it. Four features distinguish the United States in this context. First, both in terms of state formation and population growth, it was predicated on immigration, voluntary and otherwise, whereas European states came into being and grew mainly through consolidation of and natural increase among resident populations. That history shapes public attitudes toward immigration policy and immigrants. Second, unlike European states, the United States has a long history of domestic racial subordination and a recent history of efforts to overcome it, and this provides a template for incorporating new immigrant groups. Third, social welfare and school systems differ in ways that slightly facilitate incorporation for immigrants to the United States. Finally, the American electoral system is more open to insurgent candidacies, less dominated by party control, and more rewarding of geographically concentrated electoral groups, thus making election of newcomers easier. In combination, these features make immigrant political incorporation relatively successful in the United States.


Are Hispanic Immigrant Families Reviving the Economies of America's Small Towns?

Dennis Coates & Thomas Gindling
University of Maryland Working Paper, January 2010

In the 1990s, rural areas and small towns in the United States, which had been losing population, became the destinations for an increasing number of Hispanic immigrants and their families, slowing and in some cases reversing population declines. In this paper, we examine whether faster growth in the Hispanic population is linked to faster growth in income per capita in rural areas and small towns. Our results indicate strong support for the hypothesis that Hispanic population growth has fueled increased economic growth in those small, rural communities whose populations had been in decline during the 1970s and 1980s.


Illegal Immigration and Media Exposure: Evidence on Individual Attitudes

Giovanni Facchini, Anna Maria Mayda & Riccardo Puglisi
Georgetown University Working Paper, December 2009

Illegal immigration has been the focus of much debate in receiving countries, but little is known about what drives individual attitudes towards illegal immigrants. To study this question, we use the CCES survey, which was carried out in 2006 in the United States. We find evidence that - in addition to standard labor market and welfare state considerations - media exposure is significantly correlated with public opinion on illegal immigration. Controlling for education, income and ideology, individuals watching Fox News are 9 percentage points more likely than CBS viewers to oppose the legalization of undocumented immigrants. We find an effect of the same size and direction for CNN viewers, whereas individuals watching PBS are instead more likely to support legalization. Ideological self-selection into different news programs plays an important role, but cannot entirely explain the correlation between media exposure and attitudes about illegal immigration.


Bilingualism and socioemotional well-being

Wen-Jui Han
Children and Youth Services Review, forthcoming

Using the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study - Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K), this paper examines Latino children's socioemotional trajectories from kindergarten to fifth grade, paying particular attention to children's language proficiency. Results from the growth curve analysis indicate that most Latino children who spoke a non-English language were doing as well as, if not better than, their White English Monolingual peers on socioemotional well-being. By fifth grade, Fluent Bilingual and Non-English-Dominant Bilingual children were surpassing every other group with the highest levels of approaches-to-learning, self-control, and interpersonal skills and the lowest levels of internalizing and externalizing behavior problems. English-Dominant Bilingual children had similar levels and trajectories of socioemotional well-being as those of White English Monolingual children. Non-English Monolingual children, however, had the lowest self-control and interpersonal skills and the highest level of internalizing problems by fifth grade, as rated by their teachers.


Does immigration boost per capita income?

Gabriel Felbermayr, Sanne Hiller & Davide Sala
Economics Letters, forthcoming

Using a cross-section of countries, we adapt Frankel and Romer's (1999) IV strategy to international labor mobility. Controlling for institutional quality, trade, and financial openness, we establish a robust and non-negative causal effect of immigration on real per capita income.


The Impact of Hispanic Population Growth on the Outlook of African Americans

Marylee Taylor & Matthew Schroeder
Social Science Research, forthcoming

We know too little about the effects of immigration on black Americans. If prior research yields mixed evidence about immigration's consequences for the objective well-being of African Americans, it is silent about effects of immigration on blacks' subjective well-being. To fill that void, this paper assesses the impact of the expanding Hispanic population on black Americans from a social psychological perspective. We ask whether blacks' self-reported distress, social distrust, or attitudes toward Hispanics and immigrants are affected by the size of the local Hispanic population or by the percentage growth in local Hispanic residents. Answers come from responses of non-Hispanic black participants in the 1998-2002 General Social Surveys, linked to 1990 and 2000 census data. Contrary to pessimistic claims, most social psychological outcomes, including measures of economic distress, manifest no impact of local Hispanic numbers. The four exceptions, significant effects of local Hispanic population share or percentage growth evenly split in valence, underscore the complexity of recent immigration's effects on African Americans.


Gender Differences in Native Preferences Towards Undocumented and Legal Immigration: Evidence from San Diego

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Thitima Puttitanun
San Diego State University Working Paper, December 2009

The literature has noted that native views about legal as opposed to undocumented immigration in the U.S. differ. Furthermore, native views about immigration are known to vary by gender. Yet, most surveys do not inquire native men and women about their views with regards to the two distinct immigrant groups, thus impeding an analysis of differences in preferences towards legal and undocumented immigrants from the same sample of natives. Using a recent San Diego County survey, we examine differences in native male and female opinions with regards to legal and undocumented immigration and their determinants. Native preferences towards immigration appear to significantly differ by gender as well as according to immigrants' legal status. In addition, public finance and welfare concerns are among the key factors driving native male and female preferences towards legal and undocumented immigration. However, native women's attitudes are also impacted by concerns regarding the social integration and economic assimilation of undocumented immigrants possibly related to the alleged prejudice factor.


Identifying Rates of Emigration in the United States Using Administrative Earnings Records

Jonathan Schwabish
Congressional Budget Office Working Paper, March 2009

Sound assessment of the impact of immigration on the economy and public policies requires accurate measurement of both inflows and outflows of migrants. This paper undertakes a new strategy to estimate emigration rates among U.S. immigrants by inferring the probability of emigration using longitudinal administrative earnings data from 1978 through 2003. Two groups of emigrants are evaluated separately: those who emigrate from the United States and those who leave both the United States and the Social Security system. The method used here finds that between 1.0 percent and 1.5 percent of the foreign-born working population emigrates every year, consistent with previous estimates. These estimates suggest that the number of foreign-born workers who emigrate each year doubled between the late 1970s and late 1990s, rising from about 200,000 to 400,000. A smaller portion - between about 0.8 and 1.2 percent of foreign-born workers - emigrates from the United States and exits the Social Security system annually. This suggests that the number of foreign-born workers who emigrated each year from Social Security grew from about 150,000 to 330,000 over the same period. Logit regressions using data at the individual level provide evidence of differences between various demographic groups. The regression analysis suggests that immigrants with lower earnings are more likely to emigrate and that the likelihood of ever emigrating decreases with age at an increasing rate.


Who Leaves? Deciphering Immigrant Self‐Selection from a Developing Country

Randall Akee
Economic Development and Cultural Change, January 2010, Pages 323-344

Using a novel data set from a developing country, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), I analyze an emigration flow to the United States that has no legal barriers to entry and contains detailed information on the immigrant at home and in the United States. I find that highly educated workers (relative to the home country average) have the highest likelihood of migrating from the FSM to the United States. I also compare the premigration wages for the migrants and an observationally equivalent matched nonmigrant group and find that there is a positive and statistically significant difference between the two groups, indicating that immigrants are also positively selected on unobserved characteristics. The observed selection is consistent with the relatively large differences in home country and destination skill prices at the highest skill levels. Information on the immigrants' characteristics before migration is central to my analysis of determining the nature of immigrant self‐selection on both observable and unobservable characteristics. These results are informative of the self‐selection of immigration from a small developing country when legal immigration restrictions are removed.


Factors Influencing the Employability of Latinos: The Roles of Ethnicity, Criminal History, and Qualifications

Femina Varghese, Erin Hardin & Rebecca Bauer
Race and Social Problems, September 2009, Pages 171-181

Latinos are disproportionately represented among the offender population in the United States, with unemployment status a leading risk factor in Latinos returning to criminal behavior. Yet, few studies have empirically examined the employment barriers of Latino ex-offenders. The current study endeavors to begin to fill this gap by examining the role of ethnicity, criminal history, and qualifications on the employability of Latinos compared to their Anglo counterparts. After reading a description of a stock worker position, 361 college students made hiring decisions for 1 of 24 different hypothetical job applicants, varied by ethnicity, criminal history, education, and work experience. Results showed significant interactions between ethnicity and qualifications and between ethnicity and criminal history, indicating that ethnic background was influential in hiring decisions.

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