The Impact of Amnesty on Labor Market Outcomes: A Panel Study Using the Legalized Population Survey




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    •  The authors’ affiliation are, respectively, Department of Economics, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182. E-mail:; Department of Economics, St Lawrence University, 23 Romoda Drive, Canton, NY 13617. E-mail: We are grateful for the comments received from Deborah Cobb-Clark, Greg Rafert, Todd Sorensen, Magnus Lofstrom, Francesca Mazzolari and at presentations at the Upjohn Institute; the University of Montana; Scripps College; The University of California, Irvine; Lehigh University and at the Public Policy Institute of California on earlier drafts of the manuscript. Financial support from the Ministry of Education and Science (ECO2009-10818) is gratefully acknowledged.


This article tests whether amnesty, a provision of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, affected the labor market outcomes of the legalized population. Using a quasi-experimental framework, we find that employment fell, unemployment rose, and wage growth rates were higher for newly legalized men after the implementation of the amnesty program. For women, employment fell, transitions out of the workforce increased, and wages grew at a faster rate among the newly legalized population.