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WAGE AND MOBILITY EFFECTS OF LEGALIZATION: EVIDENCE FROM THE NEW IMMIGRANT SURVEY

Authors


  • The authors are grateful to the editors, two anonymous referees, Randy Capps, Ellen Hanak, Martin Guzi, Hans Johnson, Sherrie Kossoudji, Eric Larsen, Lindsay Lowell and Deborah Reed for their helpful comments as well as participants in meetings of the Population Association of America, the Western Economic Association, the Institute of the Study of Labor (IZA), the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, the Migration Policy Institute and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Conference on Immigration and the Firm.

Abstract

ABSTRACT Using New Immigrant Survey data, we identify immigrants who were unauthorized to work prior to obtaining Legal Permanent Resident status, and examine whether lacking legal status to work in the United States constrains employment outcomes of illegal immigrants. The data reveal no evidence of improved employment outcomes attributable to legal status, except among the high-skilled. In light of evidence that unauthorized immigrants experienced increased wages as a result of receiving amnesty through the 1986 Immigration and Reform Control Act, we interpret the results as consistent with a reduced threat of employer sanctions combined with widespread availability of false work authorization documents.

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