Fenced in

Kevin Lewis

July 21, 2017

Immigration, Employment Opportunities, and Criminal Behavior
Matthew Freedman, Emily Owens & Sarah Bohn
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, forthcoming

We take advantage of provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which granted legal resident status to long-time unauthorized residents but created new obstacles to employment for more recent immigrants, to explore how employment opportunities affect criminal behavior. Exploiting administrative data on the criminal justice involvement of individuals in San Antonio, Texas and using a triple-differences strategy, we find evidence of an increase in felony charges filed against residents most likely to be negatively affected by IRCA’s employment regulations. Our results suggest a strong relationship between access to legal jobs and criminal behavior.

Hispanic Population Growth Engenders Conservative Shift Among Non-Hispanic Racial Minorities
Maureen Craig & Jennifer Richeson
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

The racial/ethnic diversity of the United States is increasing, yet recent social psychological research has focused primarily on White Americans’ reactions to this demographic trend. The present research experimentally examines how members of different racial minority groups perceive increasing diversity, driven by Hispanic population growth, focusing on downstream consequences for political ideology and policy preferences. Four studies reveal that making Hispanic population growth salient leads non-Hispanic racial minorities to identify as more conservative and support more conservative policy positions, compared with control information. The policy preferences of Hispanics, however, were not affected by exposure to information about their in-group’s growth. Considered in tandem with previous research, the present studies suggest that Hispanic population growth may motivate greater support for conservative ideology among members of both racial majority and minority groups.

The Economic and Social Outcomes of Refugees in the United States: Evidence from the ACS
William Evans & Daniel Fitzgerald
NBER Working Paper, June 2017

Using data from the 2010-2014 American Community Survey, we use a procedure suggested by Capps et al. (2015) to identify refugees from the larger group of immigrants to examine the outcomes of refugees relocated to the U.S. Among young adults, we show that refugees that enter the U.S. before age 14 graduate high school and enter college at the same rate as natives. Refugees that enter as older teenagers have lower attainment with much of the difference attributable to language barriers and because many in this group are not accompanied by a parent to the U.S. Among refugees that entered the U.S. at ages 18-45, we follow respondents’ outcomes over a 20-year period in a synthetic cohort. Refugees have much lower levels of education and poorer language skills than natives and outcomes are initially poor with low employment, high welfare use and low earnings. Outcomes improve considerably as refugees age. After 6 years in the country, these refugees work at higher rates than natives but they never attain the earning levels of U.S.-born respondents. Using the NBER TAXSIM program, we estimate that refugees pay $21,000 more in taxes than they receive in benefits over their first 20 years in the U.S.

Engendering Empathy, Begetting Backlash: American Attitudes toward Syrian Refugees
Claire Adida, Adeline Lo & Melina Platas
University of California Working Paper, May 2017

Existing research has shown how easily individuals are moved to harbor exclusionary attitudes toward out-group members. Can we foster inclusion instead? This paper leverages the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis – one of the most significant humanitarian crises of our time – to test whether and under what conditions American citizens adopt more inclusionary attitudes and behaviors toward Syrian refugees. We conduct a nationally representative survey of American citizens in the weeks leading up to the 2016 presidential election and experimentally test two mechanisms hypothesized to promote inclusion: information and empathy. We examine attitudinal measures of acceptance of refugees, as well as a substantively important behavioral measure – writing a letter to the 45th president of the United States in support of refugees. Our results unveil significant effects on attitudes and behavior of both empathy and information treatments that are mediated by partisanship. The empathy treatment resulted in an increase in the likelihood of writing a letter in support of refugees. An examination of heterogeneous effects by party reveals that the empathy treatment engendered inclusionary attitudes among Independents, and the increase in letter writing was driven primarily by Democrats, whose underlying attitudes did not change, but also by Republicans. The information treatment, on the other hand, did not robustly improve attitudes or behavior of Democrats or Independents, and may have induced a backlash among Republicans. We discuss implications for understanding what kinds of interventions increase inclusion and which create backlash.

The Effect of Immigration on Wages: Exploiting Exogenous Variation at the National Level
Joan Llull
Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming

I estimate the effect of immigration on wages of native male workers correcting for endogenous allocation of immigrants across education-experience cells. Exogenous variation is obtained from interactions of push factors, distance, and skill-cell dummies: distance mitigates the effect of push factors more severely for some skill groups. I propose a two-stage approach (Sub-Sample 2SLS) that estimates the first stage regression with an augmented sample of destination countries, and the second stage with a restricted sub-sample of interest. Asymptotic properties are discussed. Results show important OLS biases. For U.S. and Canada, Sub-Sample 2SLS elasticities average around minus one, very stable across alternative specifications and different instruments.

Still More On Mariel: The Role of Race
George Borjas
NBER Working Paper, June 2017

Card’s (1990) study of the Mariel supply shock remains an important cornerstone of both the literature that measures the labor market impact of immigration, and of the “stylized fact” that immigration might not have much impact on the wage of workers in a receiving country. My recent reappraisal of the Mariel evidence (Borjas, 2017) revealed that the wage of low-skill workers in Miami declined substantially in the years after Mariel, and has already encouraged a number of re-reexaminations. Most recently, Clemens and Hunt (2017) argue that a data quirk in the CPS implies that wage trends in the sample of non-Hispanic prime-age men examined in my paper does not correctly represent what happened to wages in post-Mariel Miami. Specifically, there was a substantial increase in the black share of Miami’s low-skill workforce in the relevant period (particularly between the 1979 and 1980 survey years of the March CPS). Because African-American men earn less than white men, this increase in the black share would spuriously produce a drop in the average low-skill wage in Miami. This paper examines the robustness of the evidence presented in my original paper to statistical adjustments that control for the increasing number of black men in Miami’s low-skill workforce. The evidence consistently indicates that the race-adjusted low-skill wage in Miami fell significantly relative to the wage in other labor markets shortly after 1980 before fully recovering by 1990.

The Selection of High-Skilled Emigrants
Matthias Parey et al.
Review of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming

We measure selection among high-skilled emigrants from Germany using predicted earnings. Migrants to less equal countries are positively selected relative to non-migrants, while migrants to more equal countries are negatively selected, consistent with the prediction in Borjas (1987). Positive selection to less equal countries reflects university quality and grades, and negative selection to more equal countries reflects university subject and gender. Migrants to the United States are highly positively selected and concentrated in STEM fields. Our results highlight the relevance of the Borjas model for high-skilled individuals when credit constraints and other migration barriers are unlikely to be binding.

Why Are Some Immigrant Groups More Successful than Others?
Edward Lazear
NBER Working Paper, June 2017

Success, measured by earnings or education, of immigrants in the US varies dramatically by country of origin. For example, average educational attainment among immigrants ranges from 9 to 16 years, depending on source country. Perhaps surprisingly, immigrants from Algeria have higher educational attainment than those from Israel or Japan. Also true is that there is a strong inverse relation of attainment to number of immigrants from that country. These patterns result because in the US, immigrant slots are rationed. Selection from the top of the source country’s ability distribution is assumed and modeled. The main implications are that average immigrant attainment is inversely related to the number admitted from a source country and positively related to the population of that source country. The results are unequivocally supported by results from the American Community Survey. Additionally, a structural model that is more explicit in the assumptions and predictions fits the data well.

Political Effects of Having Undocumented Parents
Alex Street, Michael Jones-Correa & Chris Zepeda-Millán
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming

The current US undocumented population is large and settled. As a result, millions of US-born citizens are growing up with undocumented parents or siblings. In this paper, we use original survey data to study the politics of the US-citizen offspring of undocumented migrants. We test theories of parental political socialization, which imply that having undocumented parents may have chilling effects on political engagement. We also test theories of social activism, which predict that the offspring of the undocumented may be motivated to make use of their rights as US citizens by protesting on behalf of their parents. We find no evidence of lower political engagement among those with undocumented parents. Instead, we find that the offspring of the undocumented are more likely to protest on immigration issues, and more optimistic that popular protest can induce political change. We use an instrumental variables design to test whether these differences warrant a causal interpretation, and find tentative evidence that having undocumented parents does indeed have mobilizing political effects.

Cautious Citizenship: The Deterring Effect of Immigration Issue Salience on Health Care Use and Bureaucratic Interactions among Latino US Citizens
Franciso Pedraza, Vanessa Cruz Nichols & Alana LeBrón
Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, forthcoming

Research shows that health care use among Latino immigrants is adversely affected by restrictive immigration policy. A core concern is that immigrants shy away from sharing personal information in response to policies that expand bureaucratic monitoring of citizenship status across service-providing organizations. This investigation addresses the concern that immigration politics also negatively influences health care utilization among Latino US citizens. One implication is that health insurance expansions may not reduce health care inequities among Latinos due to concern about exposure to immigration law enforcement authorities. Using data from the 2015 Latino National Health and Immigration Survey, we examine the extent to which the politics of immigration deters individuals from going to health care providers and service-providing institutions. Results indicate that Latino US citizens are less likely to make an appointment to see a health care provider when the issue of immigration is mentioned. Additionally, Latino US citizens who know someone who has been deported are more inclined to perceive that information shared with health care providers is not secure. We discuss how cautious citizenship, or risk-avoidance behaviors toward public institutions in order to avoid scrutiny of citizenship status, informs debates about reducing health care inequities.

How Restricted is the Job Mobility of Skilled Temporary Work Visa Holders?
Jennifer Hunt
NBER Working Paper, June 2017

Using the National Survey of College Graduates, I investigate the degree to which holders of temporary work visas in the United States are mobile between employers. Holders of temporary work visas either have legal restrictions on their ability to change employers (particularly holders of intra-company transferee visas, L-1s) or may be reluctant to leave an employer who has sponsored them for permanent residence (particularly holders of specialty worker visas, H-1Bs). I find that the voluntary job changing rate is similar for temporary visa holders and natives with similar characteristics. For the minority of temporary workers who receive permanent residence, there is a considerable spike in voluntary moving upon receipt of permanent residence, suggesting mobility is reduced during the application period by about 20%. My analysis of reasons for moving suggests that applicants are prepared to pay a small but not large professional price for permanent access to the U.S. labor market.

Third Generation Disadvantage among Mexican Americans
Vilma Ortiz & Edward Telles
Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, forthcoming

Among Mexican Americans, generational differences in education do not fit with assimilation theory’s predictions of significant improvement from the second to third generation; instead, education for third generation remains similar to the second generation and falls behind that of non-Hispanic whites. Scholars have not examined this educational gap for recent cohorts, nor have they considered a wide range of economic outcomes by generation. Using a nationally representative sample of young adults from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey, we examine various educational and economic outcomes among second- and third-generation Mexican Americans and compare it to whites and blacks. We find that third-generation Mexican Americans have similar outcomes to the second generation and lower education and economic levels than whites and blacks, even when controlling for key factors. Our findings reveal limitations to assimilation theory and suggest that the persistent low status of third-generation Mexican Americans may be largely due to their racialization. These findings coupled with prior research on Mexican Americans point to a consistent pattern of third generation disadvantage, which stands in contrast to second generation advantage.

The Impact of Punitive Immigrant Laws on the Health of Latina/o Populations
Edward Vargas, Gabriel Sanchez & Melina Juárez
Politics & Policy, June 2017, Pages 312–337

This study examines how anti-immigrant policies affect the physical health of Latina/os in the United States. Merging two unique datasets: sum of anti-immigrant policies by state from 2005 to 2011 and a 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy nationally representative sample of Latina/os (n = 1,200), we estimate a series of logistic regressions to understand how anti-immigrant legislations are affecting the health of Latina/os. Our modeling approach takes into consideration Latinos’ diverse experience, a context that is widely overlooked in datasets that treat Latina/os as a homogeneous ethnic group. Our findings suggest that an increase in anti-immigrant laws enacted by a state decreases the probability of respondents reporting optimal health, even when controlling for other relevant factors, such as citizenship status, language of interview, and interethnic variation. The implication and significance of this work has tremendous impacts for scholars, policy makers, health service providers, and applied researchers interested in reducing health disparities among minority populations.

On Race, Ethnicity and on the Economic Cost of Immigration
Dina Maskileyson & Moshe Semyonov
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, August 2017, Pages 19-28

The paper focuses on loss (or gain) of earned income among four groups of first and second-generation immigrants (Whites, Hispanics, Blacks, and Asians) in the United States. Data were obtained from the 2013 Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey (ASEC CPS). Analysis of the male labor force population (age 24-65 years) reveals that in first generation, all four groups are disadvantaged in attainment of income (compared to third-generation and over) native-born whites. The disadvantage is least pronounced among white immigrants and most pronounced among blacks and Hispanic immigrants. Further analysis reveals that income of second-generation whites actually overpasses third generation whites. By contrast, second-generation non-white groups are disadvantaged in attainment of income when compared to third-generation whites. Second-generation non-whites are not disadvantaged, however, when compared to third-generation of the same ethnic origin. Country-specific analysis reveals some meaningful differences in income gain/loss within the major ethnic groups. For example, whereas white immigrants from Western Europe and the United Kingdom experience gain in the first generation, all nonwhites groups (except Indians) experience loss. The findings suggest that race and ethnicity continue to play a major role in the American labor market.

Acculturational Homophily
Dafeng Xu
Economics of Education Review, August 2017, Pages 29-42

Economists have long recognized the influence of friends on various outcomes among immigrants, and also observed the benefit of acculturation. This paper lies at the intersection of the above two topics: by focusing on a typical behavior of acculturation, namely English-name usage, I examine the extent of acculturational homophily among Chinese students. Specifically, I investigate the relationship between self English-name usage and English-name usage of close friends using online social networking data on students who receive undergraduate education in China and graduate education in the U.S. The empirical analysis relies on an instrumental variable strategy: I use the indicator of the difficulty of pronouncing the Chinese name in English to instrument for English-name usage. Results suggest the presence of acculturational homophily: students with English-name usage have more close friends who are also English-name users, and the relationship is not based on the number of close friends overall.

National Trauma and the Fear of Foreigners: How Past Geopolitical Threat Heightens Anti-Immigration Sentiment Today
Wesley Hiers, Thomas Soehl & Andreas Wimmer
Social Forces, forthcoming

This paper introduces a historical, macro-political argument into the literature on anti-immigration sentiment, which has mainly considered individual-level predictors such as education or social capital as well as country-level factors such as fluctuations in labor market conditions, changing composition of immigration streams, or the rise of populist parties. We argue that past geopolitical competition and war have shaped how national identities formed and thus also contemporary attitudes toward newcomers: countries that have experienced more violent conflict or lost territory and sovereignty developed ethnic (rather than civic) forms of nationalism and thus show higher levels of anti-immigration sentiment today. We introduce a geopolitical threat scale and score 33 European countries based on their historical experiences. Two anti-immigration measures come from the European Social Survey. Mixed-effects, ordinal logistic regression models reveal strong statistical and substantive significance for the geopolitical threat scale. Furthermore, ethnic forms of national identification do seem to mediate this relationship between geopolitical threat and restrictionist attitudes. The main analysis is robust to a wide variety of model specifications, to the inclusion of all control variables known to affect anti-immigration attitudes, and to a series of alternative codings of the geopolitical threat scale.

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