What Drives Immigration Amnesties?
43 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2012
Date Written: October 31, 2012
We develop a general model of legal and illegal immigration to understand the basic tradeoffs faced by a government in the decision to implement an immigration amnesty in the presence of a selective immigration policy. We show that two channels play an important role: an amnesty is more likely the more restricted are the occupational opportunities of undocumented immigrants and the less redistributive is the welfare state. Empirical evidence based on a novel panel dataset of legalizations carried out by a group of OECD countries between 1980-2007 broadly supports the role played by the channels identified in our theoretical model.
Keywords: illegal immigration, amnesties, labor market mismatch, welfare state
JEL Classification: F220, J610
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