Getting in

Kevin Lewis

October 07, 2016

Made in America? Immigrant Occupational Mobility in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

Peter Catron

American Journal of Sociology, September 2016, Pages 325-378

Assimilation research largely assumes that Southern, Central, and Eastern European immigrants achieved assimilation due to job ladders within manufacturing firms in the first half of the 20th century. But this literature has never tested whether Italians and Slavs experienced upward mobility. Did manufacturing allow for the upward advancement of all European-origin groups? Using data sets containing employment histories from 1900 to 1950 in three manufacturing companies - A. M. Byers Company, Pullman-Standard Manufacturing, and the Ford Motor Company - this article offers the first empirical analysis of occupational mobility within factories among European-origin groups. Results suggest that organizational structures within firms through the formation of internal labor markets did little to counter other forces that kept immigrants from achieving upward mobility. Southern, Central, and Eastern European immigrants ended their careers within firms where they began - positions at the bottom of the occupational hierarchy - contrary to the implicit assumptions of assimilation research.


Compensation or Retrenchment? The Paradox of Immigration and Public Welfare Spending in the American States

Ping Xu

State Politics & Policy Quarterly, forthcoming

By using American state-level data from 1999 to 2008, this article explores how the recent immigrant influx has influenced public welfare spending in the American states. By integrating the race/ethnicity and globalization compensation theory, I hypothesize that immigration will increase welfare spending in states with a bleak job market and exclusive state immigrant welfare policy; in contrast, immigration will decrease welfare spending in states with a good job market and inclusive state immigrant welfare policy. Empirical tests show evidence for both hypotheses, suggesting that the applicability of general political science theories depends on a combination of state policy and economic contexts.


The Trump Hypothesis: Testing Immigrant Populations as a Determinant of Violent and Drug-Related Crime in the United States

David Green

Social Science Quarterly, September 2016, Pages 506-524

Objectives: To test the "Trump Hypothesis": whether immigrants are responsible for higher levels of violent and drug-related crime in the United States, as asserted by Donald Trump in his 2015 presidential campaign announcement. This is achieved using recent crime and immigration data, thus testing the common public perception linking immigrants to crime, and providing an updated assessment of the immigrant-crime nexus.

Methods: Rates of violent crime and drug arrests by state are pooled for 2012-2014. These are compared against pooled statistics on foreign-born and Mexican nationals living in the United States, as well as estimates of undocumented foreign and undocumented Mexican population by state. The data are analyzed using correlation and multivariate regressions.

Results: Data uniformly show no association between immigrant population size and increased violent crime. However, there appears to be a small but significant association between undocumented immigrant populations and drug-related arrests.

Conclusions: Results largely contradict the Trump Hypothesis: no evidence links Mexican or undocumented Mexican immigrants specifically to violent or drug-related crime. Undocumented immigrant associations with drug-related crime are minimal, though significant. The Trump Hypothesis consequently appears to be biased toward rhetoric rather than evidence.


Unintended effects of the Alabama HB 56 immigration law on crime: A preliminary analysis

Yinjunjie Zhang, Marco Palma & Zhicheng Phil Xu

Economics Letters, October 2016, Pages 68-71

The Alabama HB 56 act passed in 2011 is the strictest anti-illegal immigration bill in the United States. Using the synthetic control method to create a counterfactual Alabama, this paper provides suggestive evidence that Alabama HB 56 led to an increase in violent crime rates, but had no significant impact on property crime rates.


The Role of Immigration: Race/Ethnicity and San Diego Homicides Since 1970

Ramiro Martinez, Jacob Stowell & Janice Iwama

Journal of Quantitative Criminology, September 2016, Pages 471-488

Objectives: The temporal variation in homicide is examined by studying trends in race/ethnic specific killings (e.g. Blacks, Latinos and Whites). Two substantively important issues are also addressed - a closer examination of the role community heterogeneity plays in homicide levels and the treatment of immigration as an endogenous social process.

Methods: Data are reported for homicides in the city of San Diego, California over the period 1960-2010. The address of each killing is geocoded into 341 census tracts.

Results: We find that neighborhoods experiencing increases in the foreign-born population tend to be less violent. White and Latino homicide victimization was reduced significantly as a product of increases in the neighborhood concentration of foreign-born individuals. Supplementary analyses did not find empirical evidence that the influx of foreign-born individuals could (or should) be considered a disruptive social process. Over the past five decennial census periods, the exponential increase in immigration in this border city is not associated with an increase in homicide victimization.

Conclusions: When examined through a wider temporal lens than is typically employed, and accounting for the endogeneity of immigrant residential settlement, we find no support for the claims that immigration is a crime generating social process.


Immigrant Entrepreneurs and the Social Safety Net

Gareth Olds

Harvard Working Paper, June 2016

This paper explores the role of public health insurance in small business ownership among immigrants, a group with high rates of entrepreneurship. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 created a five-year "waiting period" for legal immigrants to receive federal benefits. However, when the State Child Health Insurance Program was passed in the following year, 15 states chose to insure newly arrived immigrant children with local funds. Using a triple-difference identification strategy, I show that these policies made families with foreign-born members 21% less likely to have uninsured children compared to the pre-policy baseline. These households were also 20% more likely to be self-employed and 28% more likely to own an incorporated business. The increase operates mainly through increases in firm birth rates but survival rates are also higher. The increase in firm ownership comes mostly from families whose children were already insured, suggesting public health insurance increases business ownership by reducing the risks of losing coverage.


Birds of Passage: Return Migration, Self-Selection and Immigration Quotas

Zachary Ward

Explorations in Economic History, forthcoming

A key feature of migration in the late 19th and early 20th century is that many migrants returned to Europe after a few years in the United States. A common view is that most temporary migrants planned, upon entry, to eventually return home, yet there is little direct evidence to support this claim. I collect the first dataset on migrants' intentions to stay or return home from Ellis Island arrival records between 1917 and 1924. I find that fewer migrants planned to return home than actually did; many migrants, especially from Eastern and Southern Europe, left the United States unexpectedly. The high rate of unplanned returns implies that the first few years after arrival were more difficult than expected. However, this high rate of unexpected returns lowered after the 1920s migration quotas, suggesting improved outcomes for those lucky enough to enter.


To the New World and Back Again: Return Migrants in the Age of Mass Migration

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson

NBER Working Paper, September 2016

We compile large datasets from Norwegian and US historical censuses to study return migration during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913). Return migrants were somewhat negatively selected from the migrant pool: Norwegian immigrants who returned to Norway held slightly lower-paid occupations than Norwegian immigrants who stayed in the US, both before and after moving to the US. Upon returning to Norway, return migrants held higher-paid occupations than Norwegians who never moved, despite hailing from poorer backgrounds. They were also more likely to get married after return. These patterns suggest that despite being negatively selected, return migrants were able to accumulate savings and improve their economic circumstances once they returned home.


The effects of DACAmentation: The impact of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals on unauthorized immigrants

Nolan Pope

Journal of Public Economics, November 2016, Pages 98-114

As the largest immigration policy in 25years, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) made deportation relief and work authorization available to 1.7 million unauthorized immigrants. This paper looks at how DACA affects DACA-eligible immigrants' labor market outcomes. I use a difference-in-differences design for unauthorized immigrants near the criteria cutoffs for DACA eligibility. I find DACA increases the likelihood of working by increasing labor force participation and decreasing the unemployment rate for DACA-eligible immigrants. I also find DACA increases the income of unauthorized immigrants in the bottom of the income distribution. I find little evidence that DACA affects the likelihood of attending school. Using these estimates, DACA moved 50,000 to 75,000 unauthorized immigrants into employment. If the effects of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) are similar to DACA, then DAPA could potentially move over 250,000 unauthorized immigrants into employment.


Is The Mediterranean The New Rio Grande? US And EU Immigration Pressures In The Long Run

Gordon Hanson & Craig McIntosh

NBER Working Paper, September 2016

How will worldwide changes in population affect pressures for international migration in the future? We contrast the past three decades, during which population pressures contributed to substantial labor flows from neighboring countries into the United States and Europe, with the coming three decades, which will see sharp reductions in labor-supply growth in Latin America but not in Africa or much of the Middle East. Using a gravity-style empirical model, we examine the contribution of changes in relative labor-supply to bilateral migration in the 2000s and then apply this model to project future bilateral flows based on long-run UN forecasts of working-age populations in sending and receiving countries. Because the Americas are entering an era of uniformly low population growth, labor flows across the Rio Grande are projected to slow markedly. Europe, in contrast, will face substantial demographically driven migration pressures from across the Mediterranean for decades to come. Although these projected inflows would triple the first-generation immigrant stocks of larger European countries, they would still absorb only a small fraction of the 800-million-person increase in the working-age population of Sub-Saharan Africa that is projected to occur over the coming 40 years.


Settling for Academia? H-1B Visas and the Career Choices of International Students in the United States

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Delia Furtado

San Diego State University Working Paper, August 2016

For the first time since the inception of the H-1B visa, yearly caps became binding in 2004, making it harder for most foreign-born students to secure employment in the United States. However, since the year 2000, institutions of higher education and related non-profit research institutes had been exempt from the cap. We explore how immigrant employment choices were impacted by the binding visa cap, exploiting the fact that citizens of five countries (Canada, Mexico, Chile, Singapore and Australia) had access to alternate work visas. Our estimates suggest that international students from H-1B dependent countries became more likely to work in academic institutions if they graduated after 2004 than immigrants from the five countries with substitute work visas.Within academia, foreign-born graduates affected by the visa cap became more likely to work in a job unrelated to their field of study, while no such change occurred in the private sector - a finding consistent with the notion of workers "settling for academia." We conclude with an analysis of workforce compositional changes in the academic versus private sectors as a result of the binding visa caps.


Deportation, Crime, and Victimization

Sandra Rozo, Steven Raphael & Therese Anders

University of Southern California Working Paper, September 2016

We study whether the forced removal of undocumented immigrants from the United States increases crime and victimization in Mexican municipalities. Using individual and municipal panel data on victimization, safety perceptions, and violent crime matched with annual deportation flows from the United States to Mexico, we assess whether municipalities and individuals in closer proximity to geographic repatriation points experience higher crime and perceived insecurity with surges in deportation flows. We also assess the degree to which victimization is concentrated on repatriated immigrants themselves. We find that individuals with greater geographic exposure to deportation flows have a higher likelihood of being victims of robberies and also experience lower perceived personal safety. Deportees themselves are most likely to be crime victims.


From "Different" to "Similar": An Experimental Approach to Understanding Assimilation

Ariela Schachter

American Sociological Review, October 2016, Pages 981-1013

Assimilation is theorized as a multi-stage process where the structural mobility of immigrants and their descendants ultimately leads to established and immigrant-origin populations developing a subjective sense of social similarity with one another, an outcome I term symbolic belonging. Yet existing work offers little systematic evidence as to whether and how immigrants' gains - in terms of language ability, socioeconomic status, neighborhood integration, or intermarriage - cause changes in the perceptions of the native-born U.S. population. I use a nationally representative conjoint survey experiment to explore whether and how immigrants' mobility gains shape native-born white citizens' perceptions of symbolic belonging. I find that white natives are generally open to structural relationships with immigrant-origin individuals (e.g., friends and neighbors), with the exception of black immigrants and natives, and undocumented immigrants. Yet, white Americans simultaneously view all non-white people, regardless of legal status, as dissimilar and far from achieving symbolic belonging in U.S. society. The results offer optimism about the potential structural mobility of legal immigrants and their descendants, yet simultaneously suggest that explicitly racialized lines of division remain just below the surface.


Can authorization reduce poverty among undocumented immigrants? Evidence from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Francisca Antman

Economics Letters, October 2016, Pages 1-4

We explore the impact of authorization on the poverty exposure of households headed by undocumented immigrants. The identification strategy makes use of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provided a temporary work authorization and reprieve from deportation to eligible immigrants. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we compare DACA-eligible to DACA-ineligible likely unauthorized immigrants, before and after the program implementation. We find that DACA reduced the likelihood of life in poverty of households headed by eligible individuals by 38 percent, hinting at the gains from even temporary authorization programs.


Migration to the US and marital mobility

Rebekka Christopoulou & Dean Lillard

Review of Economics of the Household, September 2016, Pages 669-694

When immigrants enter the US they typically access a marriage market with a larger supply of educated spouses compared to the marriage market in their home countries. Absent any selectivity bias, this access should increase the likelihood that migrants 'marry-up' in terms of education. We combine survey data on British and German immigrants in the US with data on natives in Britain and Germany to estimate the causal effect of migration on educational mobility through cross-national marriage. To control for selective mating, we instrument educational attainment using government spending on education in the years each person was of school-age. To control for selective migration, we instrument the migration decision using inflows of immigrants to the US during puberty and early adulthood. We find strong selectivity effects that work against the positive prospects of the US marriage market. All migrants give up spousal education in exchange for US entry and assimilation. Migrant men also give up spousal education because they cannot compete with native men as bread-earners. Migrant women have some advantage in the US marriage market, as they can compete with native women in home production.


Path-to-Citizenship or Deportation? How Elite Cues Shaped Opinion on Immigration in the 2010 U.S. House Elections

Bradford Jones & Danielle Joesten Martin

Political Behavior, forthcoming

The ascendency of immigration as an issue in elections has been concomitant with massive increases in the Hispanic population in the U.S. We examine how immigration cues prompt greater or lesser levels of restrictionist sentiment among individuals, showing demographic context conditions the effect of candidates cues. Using data from the 2010 U.S. House elections, we illustrate cues presented in new destination states - states with massive increases in the size of the Hispanic population from 1990 to 2010 - have a larger impact on individuals' immigration preferences than cues presented in non-new destination contexts. We show candidates with more extreme immigration positions are more likely to prioritize the issue of immigration in their campaigns, suggesting campaign prioritization of immigration has a directional cue. We conclude these directional cues from Republican candidates in new destination contexts move individual attitudes toward restrictionist preferences.


The "Negative" Assimilation of Immigrants: A Counter-Example from the Canadian Labor Market

Gilles Grenier & Yi Zhang

Journal of Labor Research, September 2016, Pages 263-286

With Canadian data ranging from 1991 to 2011, this paper investigates the effects of the number of years since migration on the earnings of immigrants from the United States and the United Kingdom in Canada. The aim is to test whether the "negative assimilation" hypothesis proposed by Chiswick and Miller (Ind Labor Relat Rev 64(3):502-525, 2011) for immigrants to the United States is a universal finding for immigrants from countries with similar economic standing and skill transferability to those of the destination country. We also expand on Chiswick and Miller's work by doing regressions for both males and females and by comparing to Chinese immigrants, a representative group from a less developed country. We find that the negative assimilation hypothesis does not hold for the Canadian labor market. Specifically, the assimilation rate is close to zero for U.K. immigrants and strictly positive for U.S. immigrants (although lower than that of a comparison group of Chinese immigrants). The assimilation rates are also higher for females than for males.


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