Undocumented Worker Employment and Firm Survivability

FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2008-28

40 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2009

See all articles by J. David Brown

J. David Brown

US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Julie L. Hotchkiss

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Myriam Quispe-Agnoli

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Date Written: December 2008

Abstract

Do firms employing undocumented workers have a competitive advantage? Using administrative data from the state of Georgia, this paper investigates the incidence of undocumented worker employment across firms and how it affects firm survival. Firms are found to engage in herding behavior, being more likely to employ undocumented workers if competitors do. Rivals' undocumented employment harms firms' ability to survive while firms' own undocumented employment strongly enhances their survival prospects. This finding suggests that firms enjoy cost savings from employing lower-paid undocumented at workers wages less than their marginal revenue product. The herding behavior and competitive effects are found to be much weaker in geographically broad product markets, where firms have the option to shift labor-intensive production out of state or abroad.

Keywords: undocumented workers, firm dynamics, monopsony, immigration policy

JEL Classification: L1, J23, J61

Suggested Citation

Brown, J. David and Hotchkiss, Julie L. and Quispe-Agnoli, Myriam, Undocumented Worker Employment and Firm Survivability (December 2008). FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2008-28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1327866 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1327866

J. David Brown

US Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies ( email )

4600 Silver Hill Road
Washington, DC 20233
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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Julie L. Hotchkiss (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta ( email )

Research Department
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Atlanta, GA 30309-4470
United States
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404-498-8058 (Fax)

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

Myriam Quispe-Agnoli

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta ( email )

1000 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30309-4470
United States
404-498-8930 (Phone)
404-498-8956 (Fax)

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