Impacts of Policy Reforms on Labor Migration from Rural Mexico to the United States

Edited by Susan M. Richter, J. Edward Taylor and Antonio Yúnez-Naude

in Mexican Immigration to the United States

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780226066325
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226066684 | DOI:
Impacts of Policy Reforms on Labor Migration from Rural Mexico to the United States

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Immigrant workers from Mexico are a critical component of the supply of labor to agriculture and many nonagricultural sectors in the United States. They constitute 3.5 percent of U.S. labor force but are heavily concentrated into two types of sectors: 25 percent are in services, and 29 percent are involved in production and transportation occupations. Two major policy changes—the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)—together with intensified enforcement along the southern U.S. border, were aimed wholly or partially at curtailing the flow of unauthorized Mexico-to-U.S. migration. The curtailment of unauthorized migration had the potential to reduce the supply of labor to these U.S. economic sectors. But the policies had potentially counteracting effects. The overall impact of NAFTA, IRCA, and increased border enforcement on migration is theoretically ambiguous and therefore must be estimated econometrically. This chapter develops a dynamic econometric model to test the effect of these policy changes on the flow of migrant labor from rural Mexico to the United States. Recognizing that policy changes may have differential effects on male and female labor migration, it estimates the effects of policy changes by the gender of migrant flows as well. The models are estimated using retrospective data from the 2003 Mexico National Rural Household Survey.

Keywords: Mexican immigrants; immigration policy; labor supply; labor force; North American Free Trade Agreement; Immigration Reform and Control Act; migrant labor

Chapter.  7642 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Economics

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