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RESTRICTING EMPLOYMENT OF LOW-PAID IMMIGRANTS: A GENERAL EQUILIBRIUM ASSESSMENT OF THE SOCIAL WELFARE IMPLICATIONS FOR LEGAL U.S. WAGE-EARNERS

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Abstract

This paper builds on earlier work that used a general-equilibrium model to show that reducing employment of unauthorized immigrants in the United States through a tighter border-security policy lowers the average income of legal residents. Here we exploit further the detail available in the general-equilibrium model to look at distributional effects, recognizing that the policy increases wage rates for low-paid legal workers. We assess the social welfare effect on legal workers using a constant elasticity of substitution social welfare function. We contrast our general-equilibrium approach to immigration analysis with the more commonly used partial-equilibrium, econometric approach. (JEL D63, J61, C68)

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