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November 1996, Volume 3, Number 11

Working Papers on Immigration Issues

Borjas, George, and Lynnette Hilton. 1996. Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant Participation in Means-Tested Entitlement Programs. NBER WP 5372.

In 1990, about nine percent of US households with foreign-born heads received cash assistance such as AFDC, versus seven percent of households headed by US-born persons. However, if in-kind welfare assistance such as Medicaid and Food Stamps are included, then 21 percent of households with foreign-born heads received benefits in 1990, versus 14 percent of households headed by US-born persons.

Note that many other analysts of the usage of welfare by immigrants do not consider the household to be an immigrant household if the head was born in another country. One estimate is that two-thirds of immigrant-headed households include a US-born person.

Households with foreign-born heads received more assistance--such households were nine percent of all US households, but they received 14 percent of the $184 billion spent on federal welfare assistance in 1990. The gap between foreign-born and native-born households was greatest for Medicaid--15 percent of the immigrant households, and seven percent of native-born households, received Medicaid benefits in 1990.

Hanson, Gordon and Antonio Spilmbergo. 1996. Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages. NBER WP 5592.

This paper concludes that a 10 percent decrease in Mexican real wages was associated with about eight percent more apprehensions in the following month between 1976 and 1995. Adding one more hour of Border Patrol enforcement time was associated with about 0.3 more apprehensions.

Hanson, Gordon. 1996. US-Mexican Integration and Regional Economies: Evidence from Border-City Pairs. NBER WP 5485.

This paper investigates the growth of trade and investment in the six largest US-Mexican border pairs between 1975 and 1989, and concludes that NAFTA will expand employment and population on both sides of the border.

Krueger, Alan and Jorn-Steffen Pischke. 1996. A Statistical Analysis of Crime Against Foreigners in Unified Germany. NBER WP 5485.

Using data on the number of crimes committed against foreigners from newspaper reports, this paper finds that crimes against foreigners are highest in the former East Germany and that the number of foreigners in a county is associated with more crimes against foreigners only in the East.

Borjas, George, Richard Freeman, and Lawrence Katz. 1996. Searching for the Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market. NBER WP 5454.

This paper compares area and factor proportions methods of estimating the effects of immigrants in local labor markets. In area analyses, the share of immigrants in employment, or the change in the share of immigrants, is an independent variable that is used to try to explain changes in the wages, unemployment etc of native workers. As the labor market expands, the estimated negative effects of immigrants increase in 1980 and 1990 Census data.

In factor-proportions analyses, by contrast, the analyst assumes that e.g., immigrants are unskilled, and natives are skilled, and then estimates the effects of more immigrants on skilled workers' labor market outcomes. These analyses suggest that immigration contributed to falling wages for US workers with less than a high school education in the 1980s.

Raphael, Steven and Eugene Smolensky. 1996. Immigration, Foregone Human Capital, and the Fisc. Berkeley: Graduate School of Public Policy WP 224.

If Prop. 187 prohibitions on the estimated 300,000 to 350,000 illegal alien children in California public schools were implemented, and if the children stayed in California and were not educated, then the illegal children not educated would earn from $62,000 to $430,000 less in their lifetimes, with the largest earnings losses for illegal alien children kept out of kindergarten and not receiving any education.

Since more education is associated with higher earnings and more taxes, the analysis suggests that denying education to persons who remain in California and seek jobs could be counterproductive.

Research Perspectives on Migration is a new bi-monthly newsletter produced by the migration programs of the Carnegie Endowment and the Urban Institute. The first issue, September/October 1996, deals with the use of welfare by foreign-born persons in the US and concludes that there is too little consensus in the social science research to serve as a basis for changing the legal immigration system in a manner that would attempt to reduce the welfare costs of immigrants. For further information, contact David Aronson at

The Carnegie Endowment's International Migration Policy Program issued several brief papers on migration issues in 1996. The first paper, entitled Managing Uncertainty, argues that the immigration problem flows from unwanted immigration, compassion fatigue, and reactions against global interdependence. The paper concludes that the most important steps needed to deal with immigration are to have "sound" polices that are reviewed regularly, and to prevent "anti-immigrant demagogues" from shaping public opinion.

The "US Refugee Policy" paper reviews resettlement, temporary protection, asylum, and emergency responses to migration crises. The paper cautions against too much reliance on the prevention of refugees, and urges that the US continue to offer protection to those facing persecution. The "Converging Paths to Restriction" paper reviews how governments in France, Italy, and the UK responded to immigration and asylum issues. For copies of these reports, contact Yasmin Santiago at tel (202) 862-7982 or fax 202-862-3750.