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Session 13: Migration

Sept 9-10, 2019 | Landau Economics Bldg, 579 Serra Mall, Room 134 (A), Stanford

Migration is one of the key issues both in the U.S. and around the globe. Economists study migration from several perspectives: history, labor, trade, and development. Yet, too often researchers across fields do not present work in the same forum. This SITE session will start this conversation and bring together economists who study questions of migration from different perspectives to stimulate cross-field conversation and share insights and research findings. We plan a two-day conference, with 10-12 papers presented, and plenty of time to discuss and engage with work during the conference.

Organizers: Ran Abramitzky (Stanford), Ethan Lewis (Dartmouth College) and Melanie Morten (Stanford)
Co-Sponsor:  The King Center

In this Session

Sep 9 | 8:00 am to 8:45 am

Check-in | Breakfast

Sep 9 | 8:45 am to 9:00 am

Welcome & Introduction

Sep 9 | 9:00 am to 9:40 am

Youth Drain, Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Presented by: Giovanni Peri (UC Davis)
Co-Author(s): Massimo Anelli (Bocconi), Gaetano Basso (Banca d'Italia) and Giuseppe Ippedico (UC Davis)
Sep 9 | 9:40 am to 10:00 am


Sep 9 | 10:00 am to 10:40 am

The Social Impacts of Immigrant Legalization: Evidence from IRCA

Presented by: Ethan Lewis (Dartmouth)
Sep 9 | 10:40 am to 11:00 am


Sep 9 | 11:00 am to 11:40 am

​The Labor Market Effects of Immigration Enforcement

Presented by: Chloe East (University of Colorado Denver)
Co-Author(s): Annie Laurie Hines (University of California, Davis), Philip Luck (University of Colorado Denver), Hani Mansour (University of Colorado Denver), and Andrea Velasquez (University of Colorado Denver)

We examine the labor market effects of Secure Communities (SC)–an immigration enforcement policy which led to over 450,000 deportations. Using a difference-indifference model that takes advantage of the staggered rollout of SC we find that SC significantly decreased male employment. Importantly, the negative effects are concentrated among low-educated non-citizens in low-skilled occupations and citizens in high-skilled occupations–reducing employment of citizens by approximate 300,000 nationally. These findings are consistent with low-skilled immigrants and higher-skilled citizens being complements in production. This is the first quasi-experimental evidence on the labor market effects of immigration enforcement policies on citizens.

Sep 9 | 11:40 am to 1:00 pm


Sep 9 | 1:00 pm to 1:40 pm

Border Walls

Presented by: Melanie Morten (Stanford)
Sep 9 | 1:40 pm to 2:00 pm


Sep 9 | 2:00 pm to 2:40 pm

The International Transmission of Local Economic Shocks Through Migrant Networks

Presented by: Maria Caballero (CMU)
Co-Author(s): Brian C. Cadena (University of Colorado, Boulder) and Brian K. Kovak (Carnegie Mellon University)

Using newly validated data on geographic migration networks, we study how labor demand shocks in the United States propagate across the border with Mexico. We show that the large exogenous decline in US employment brought about by the Great Recession affected migration, remittances, and other outcomes in Mexican communities that were highly connected to the
most affected markets in the US. Mexican source regions with strong initial ties to the hardest hit US destinations experienced larger increases in return migration, declines in emigration, and declines in remittances. These changes significantly increased working-age population growth and partly rebalanced the gender ratio in those source regions. These findings show how local economic shocks in destination regions affect international migration decisions between wellintegrated local labor markets in Mexico and the US and demonstrate how outcomes in Mexico change when potential migrants lose access to a strong US labor market.

Sep 9 | 2:40 pm to 3:00 pm


Sep 9 | 3:00 pm to 3:40 pm

Innocent Until Stereotyped Guilty? Terrorism and US Immigration Court Decisions

Presented by: Kweku Opoku-Agyemang (UC Berkeley)
Co-Author(s): Justice Tei Mensah (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences)

We investigate the impact of terrorist attacks on asylum court decisions made by US immigration judges. We exploit quasi-random variations in the timing of attacks and immigration court hearings, and the random variations in the success or failure of US-based terrorist attacks, finding a significant negative effect of terrorism on asylum approvals. Our results suggest that immigration court judges stereotype asylum seekers as potential terrorists. Such stereotypes seem unique to asylum applicants, as parole approvals do not significantly change after attacks. Applicants from predominantly Muslim, Middle-Eastern and North African countries are disproportionately denied after successful terrorist attacks in the US.

Sep 9 | 3:40 pm to 4:00 pm


Sep 9 | 4:00 pm to 4:15 pm

The Impact of Indochinese Refugees on U.S. Students’ Academic Achievement and Post-Secondary Education

Presented by: Cynthia Van Der Werf Cuadros (UC Davis)
Sep 9 | 4:15 pm to 4:30 pm

Network Effects: Evidence from Salvadoran Migration to the U.S.

Presented by: Ivette Contreras (GWU)
Sep 9 | 4:30 pm to 4:45 pm

The Effects of Slum Clearance on Displaced Residents: Evidence from Victorian London

Presented by: Yiming He (Stanford)
Sep 9 | 4:45 pm to 5:00 pm

Forced Migration and Human Capital

Presented by: Zhixian Lin (UC Davis)
Sep 9 | 6:00 pm

Dinner Off-Site

Sep 10 | 8:00 am to 8:30 am


Sep 10 | 8:30 am to 9:10 am

Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of "Rugged Individualism" in the United States

Presented by: Sam Bazzi (Boston University)
Co-Author(s): Martin Fiszbein (Boston University) and Mesay Gebresilasse (Boston University)

The presence of a westward-moving frontier of settlement shaped early U.S. history. In 1893, the historian Frederick Jackson Turner famously argued that the American frontier fostered individualism. We investigate the Frontier Thesis and identify its long-run implications for culture and politics. We track the frontier throughout the 1790–1890 period and construct a novel, county-level measure of total frontier experience (TFE). Historically, frontier locations had distinctive demographics and greater individualism. Long after the closing of the frontier, counties with greater TFE exhibit more pervasive individualism and opposition to redistribution. This pattern cuts across known divides in the U.S., including urban–rural and north–south. We provide suggestive evidence on the roots of frontier culture: selective migration, an adaptive advantage of self-reliance, and perceived opportunities for upward mobility through effort. Overall, our findings shed new light on the frontier’s persistent legacy of rugged individualism.

Sep 10 | 9:10 am to 9:30 am


Sep 10 | 9:30 am to 10:10 am

Intergenerational Mobility of Immigrants in the US over Two Centuries

Presented by: Ran Abramitzky (Stanford) and Santiago Perez (UC Davis)
Sep 10 | 10:10 am to 10:30 am


Sep 10 | 10:30 am to 11:10 am

Goods and Factor Market Integration: A Quantitative Assessment of the EU Enlargement

Presented by: Lorenzo Caliendo (Yale SOM)
Sep 10 | 11:10 am to 11:30 am


Sep 10 | 11:30 am to 12:10 pm

Workers’ Home Bias and Spatial Wage Gaps: Lessons from the Enduring Divide between East and West Germany

Presented by: Tommaso Porzio (Columbia GSB)
Co-Author(s): Sebastian Heise (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

Even within dynamic and integrated labor markets, real wage differences across regions often persist for decades. Germany is an example: more than 25 years after the East-West reunification, firms in the East are still paying 17% lower real wage per efficiency unit of labor. We use detailed microdata, interpreted through a new model of worker reallocation across regions and firms, to show that workers’ attachment towards their home region, or home bias, allows this wage gap to persist without leading to large migration waves. While workers move frequently across firms and regions, job flows and accepted wage offers are biased towards the home region, thus effectively segmenting the two labor markets, and shielding low productivity firms in the East from competition. We estimate the home bias, and use matched employer-employee data to unpack it into three components: preferences, labor frictions, and skills. General equilibrium counterfactuals show that the different sources of home bias have sharp, but distinct, effects on aggregate wages and on workers’ utility.

Sep 10 | 12:10 pm to 1:20 pm


Sep 10 | 1:20 pm to 2:00 pm

High-Skill Migration, Multinational Companies and the Location of Economic Activity

Presented by: Nicolas Morales (FRB Richmond)

The purpose of this paper is to quantify the effects of high-skill migration on the location of high-skill industries and multinational activity. To establish empirically the link between multinational enterprises (MNEs) and migration, I assemble a novel firm-level dataset on high-skill visa applications and show that there is a large home-bias effect, demonstrating that foreign MNEs in the US tend to hire more migrant workers from their home countries compared to US firms. To quantify the general equilibrium implications for production and welfare, I build a quantitative model that includes trade, MNE production, and the migration decisions of high-skill workers. I use the new dataset to structurally estimate the key elasticities of the model: the elasticity of labor supply and the elasticity of substitution between high-skill natives, home country workers, and other foreign workers. The estimated model is used to run two main counterfactual exercises. The first one evaluates the implications of a more restrictive immigration policy in the US in line with recent proposals whose aim is to reduce high-skill immigration. I find that a restriction on immigration to the US that decreases its total workforce by 2.1% would decrease by 3%-4% the US share of production in industries that rely heavily on high-skill migrants, such as IT and High-Tech manufacturing. This decline in US production would coincidently fuel IT sector growth predominantly in India (4.4%) and Canada (1.2%) and would decrease welfare for US workers by 0.98%. In the second counterfactual exercise I increase the barriers to MNE production to calculate the welfare gains generated by MNEs. I show that a model not incorporating migration would overestimate the MNE welfare gains for high-skill workers by 34% and underestimate welfare gains for low-skill workers by 7%.

Sep 10 | 2:00 pm to 2:20 pm


Sep 10 | 2:20 pm to 3:00 pm

The Productivity Consequences of Pollution-Induced Migration in China

Presented by: Mushfiq Mobarak (Yale SOM)
Sep 10 | 3:00 pm

Conference Concludes