Kevin Lewis

October 03, 2019

The Wage Penalty to Undocumented Immigration
George Borjas & Hugh Cassidy
Labour Economics, forthcoming

This paper examines the determinants of the wage penalty experienced by undocumented workers, defined as the wage gap between observationally equivalent legal and undocumented immigrants. Using recently developed methods that impute undocumented status for foreign-born persons sampled in microdata surveys, the study documents a number of empirical findings. Although the unadjusted gap in the log hourly wage between the average undocumented and legal immigrant is very large (over 35%), almost all of this gap disappears once the calculation adjusts for differences in observable socioeconomic characteristics. The wage penalty to undocumented immigration for men was only about 4% in 2016. Nevertheless, there is sizable variation in the wage penalty over the life cycle, across demographic groups, across different legal environments, and across labor markets. The flat age-earnings profiles of undocumented immigrants, created partly by slower occupational mobility, implies a sizable increase in the wage penalty over the life cycle; the wage penalty falls when legal restrictions on the employment of undocumented immigrants are relaxed (as with DACA) and rises when restrictions are tightened (as with E-Verify); and the wage penalty responds to increases in the number of undocumented workers in the labor market, with the wage penalty being higher in those states with larger undocumented populations.

Occupational Attainment of Natives and Immigrants: A Cross-Cohort Analysis
Hugh Cassidy
Journal of Human Capital, Fall 2019, Pages 375-409

I compare the occupational attainment of male US immigrant and native workers using the task-based approach. Immigrants have on average higher manual and lower analytical and interactive task requirements than natives, and this gap has expanded greatly in the past several decades. The occupational assimilation toward natives in task requirements observed for earlier cohorts has slowed significantly for more recent cohorts. The increased size of both country of origin and linguistic groups as well as declining English language acquisition help to explain the assimilation slowdown. Controlling for task requirements helps to explain the earnings assimilation slowdown.

What is the Optimal Immigration Policy? Migration, Jobs and Welfare
Joao Guerreiro, Sergio Rebelo & Pedro Teles
NBER Working Paper, August 2019

We study the immigration policy that maximizes the welfare of the native population in an economy where the government designs an optimal redistributive welfare system and supplies public goods. We show that when immigrants can be excluded from the welfare system, free immigration is optimal. It is also optimal to use the tax system to encourage the immigration of high-skill workers and discourage that of low-skill workers. When immigrants and natives must be treated alike, it is optimal to ban low-skill immigration and have free immigration for high-skill workers. However, high-skill workers may choose not to immigrate when there are heavy taxes levied on all high-skill workers, natives and immigrants alike. We use a calibrated version of the model to study how the optimal immigration policy responds to changes in the skill premia in the U.S. and abroad.

Latino early adolescents' psychological and physiological responses during the 2016 U.S. presidential election
Katharine Zeiders et al.
Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, forthcoming

Methods: We examined 42 Latino early adolescents (Mage = 12.50 years, SD = .88; 58% male; 94% immigrant background) living in Arizona and explored their psychological and physiological responses during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Adolescents self-reported their mood and behaviors for 5 consecutive days across election week (November 6-10, 2016): 2 days before the election, election day, and 2 days after the election. They also completed a saliva sampling protocol at waking and bedtime each day, to capture diurnal cortisol concentrations.

Results: Multilevel growth models were utilized to examine intraindividual changes in positive affect, negative affect, and diurnal cortisol patterns across election week. Only 2 of the participants reported supporting the winning candidate. Changes in adolescents' stress hormone concentrations were evident; increases in evening cortisol levels and flatter diurnal cortisol slopes emerged across election week. Negative affect, positive affect, and morning cortisol concentrations did not change.

Predicting Danger in Immigration Courts
Emily Ryo
Law and Social Inquiry, February 2019, Pages 227-256

Every year, the US government detains thousands of noncitizens in removal proceedings on the basis that they might pose a threat to public safety if released during the pendency of their removal proceedings. Using original audio recording data on immigration bond hearings, this study examines immigration judges' determinations regarding which noncitizens pose a danger to the community. My multivariate analysis that controls for a variety of detainee background characteristics and criminal-conviction-related measures produced three main findings. First, I find that Central Americans are more likely to be deemed dangerous than non-Central Americans. Second, I find that detainees with attorneys are less likely to be deemed dangerous than pro se detainees. Finally, my analysis shows that whereas felony and violent convictions are associated with higher odds of being deemed dangerous, the recency of criminal convictions and the total number of convictions are not predictive of danger determinations. Together, these findings provide new insights into the socio-legal construction of immigrant criminality.

Are Foreign Stem PhDs More Entrepreneurial? Entrepreneurial Characteristics, Preferences and Employment Outcomes of Native and Foreign Science & Engineering PhD Students
Michael Roach, Henry Sauermann & John Skrentny
NBER Working Paper, September 2019

Prior research has shown that immigrants make important contributions to US innovation and are more likely than natives to become entrepreneurs. However, there is little evidence on how foreign and native high-skilled workers differ prior to entering the workforce. Moreover, little attention has been paid to distinguishing between founders and employees who join startups. We draw on a longitudinal survey of over 5,600 foreign and native STEM PhD students at U.S. research universities to examine entrepreneurial characteristics and career preferences prior to graduation, as well as founding and employment outcomes after graduation. First, we find that foreign PhD students differ from native PhD students with respect to individual characteristics typically associated with entrepreneurship such as risk tolerance, a preference for autonomy, and interest in commercialization. Second, foreign PhD students are more likely to express intentions to become a founder or a startup employee prior to graduation. Third, despite their entrepreneurial career interests, foreign PhDs are less likely to become founders or startup employees in their first industry job after graduation. These patterns call for future research on factors that enable or constrain foreign STEM workers from realizing their entrepreneurial career aspirations.

"The Line Must Be Drawn Somewhere": The Rise of Legal Status Restrictions in State Welfare Policy in the 1970s
Cybelle Fox
Studies in American Political Development, forthcoming

In 1971, Governor Ronald Reagan signed into law a measure barring unauthorized immigrants from public assistance. The following year, New York State legislators passed a bill to do the same, although that bill was vetoed by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. This article examines these cases to better understand why states that had long provided welfare to unauthorized immigrants each sought to bar them from public assistance. Common explanations for the curtailment of immigrant social rights often center on partisan politics, popular nativism, demographic context, or issue entrepreneurs. But these studies often wrongly assume that efforts to limit immigrant social rights began in the 1990s. Therefore, they miss how such efforts first emerged in the 1970s, and how these restrictive measures were initially closely bound up in broader debates over race and welfare that followed in the wake of the War on Poverty and the civil rights movement. Where scholars often argue that immigration undermines support for welfare, I show how the turn against welfare helped to undermine immigrant social rights. I also show how differing interpretations of the scope and reach of Supreme Court decisions traditionally seen as victories for welfare and immigrant rights help explain initial variation in policy outcomes in each state.

Emigration and Collective Action
Emily Sellars
Journal of Politics, October 2019, Pages 1210-1222

I develop a model of emigration and collective action to illustrate that the presence of exit opportunities can undermine political mobilization. In a setting where collective action is risky and where success requires the participation of a large number of citizens, exit options reduce mobilization through two mechanisms. First, profitable migration opportunities raise the opportunity cost of collective action, dampening political participation among those who could migrate. In addition, the knowledge that some individuals have profitable exit options lowers everyone's confidence that collective action can be successful. Because of this, all people - regardless of whether they personally could migrate - become less likely to mobilize as exit options become more profitable or more prevalent, undermining collective action and making successful mobilization less likely. I examine the mechanisms suggested by the model using historical evidence from Mexico and Japan and discuss the implications for understanding the political economy of emigration and of emigration policy.

The inter-generational value of a green card: Evidence from the CSPA of 1992
Yaqin Su, Cynthia Bansak &Cheng Cheng
Applied Economics Letters, September 2019, Pages 1713-1717

We examine the impact of the Chinese Student Protection Act (CSPA) of 1992 on the children of those who likely received Green Cards under the US legislation. Using a differences-in-differences methodology with the American Community Survey from 2001-2017, we find that having immediate access to a Green Card for mainland Chinese mothers had a positive impact on their children, while mainland Chinese fathers' Green Card eligibility does not affect children's outcomes. Our findings highlight the importance of mother's employment and earnings on children's human capital development. It appears that the CSPA has served to enhance the human capital outcomes of second-generation Chinese immigrants.

Facts versus feelings: Objective and subjective experiences of diversity differentially impact attitudes towards the European Union
Paolo Palma, Vanessa Sinclair & Victoria Esses
Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, forthcoming

This research used secondary data sources to examine how objective and subjective experiences of diversity and immigration are associated with voting and attitudes toward the European Union. Using objective measures of diversity and migration, England's electorate regions with the most diversity and highest levels of projected migration had the lowest proportion of "Leave" voters in the 2016 Brexit vote (Study 1). Using subjective assessments of intergroup contact and immigration attitudes (Study 2), higher perceived immigrant population size was associated with greater perceived competition with immigrants and Euroscepticism, whereas intergroup contact had the opposite effect. Surprisingly, the explicit desire to reduce immigration was not associated with anti-EU attitudes. This research highlights the importance of combining objective and subjective measures of diversity and immigration in analyzing political motivations, as objective measures suggested immigration did not adversely affect Brexit votes (Study 1), whereas some subjective perceptions of immigration led to greater anti-EU attitudes.

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