Self-Selection Among Undocumented Immigrants from Mexico

FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2001-1

37 Pages Posted: 1 May 2001

See all articles by Pia M. Orrenius

Pia M. Orrenius

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Madeline Zavodny

University of North Florida; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Agnes Scott College

Date Written: February 2001

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of changes in migration determinants on the skill level of undocumented immigrants from Mexico. The authors focus on the effect of changes in economic conditions, migrant networks, and border enforcement on the educational attainment of Mexican-born men who cross the border illegally. Although previous research indicates that illegal aliens from Mexico tend to be unskilled relative to U.S. natives and that economic conditions, networks, and border enforcement affect the size of illegal immigrant flows across the border, the interaction of these variables has not been investigated. Results from hazard models using data from the Mexican Migration Project indicate that improvements in U.S. and Mexican economic conditions are associated with a decline in the average educational levels of undocumented immigrants. Stricter border enforcement is associated with higher average skill levels. Access to a network of previous immigrants appears to lower the cost of migrating but has no differential effect by skill level.

Keywords: undocumented immigrants, illegal aliens, Mexican migration

JEL Classification: F22, J61

Suggested Citation

Orrenius, Pia M. and Zavodny, Madeline, Self-Selection Among Undocumented Immigrants from Mexico (February 2001). FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2001-1, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=263538 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.263538

Pia M. Orrenius (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ( email )

PO Box 655906
Dallas, TX 75265-5906
United States
214-922-5747 (Phone)
214-922-5194 (Fax)

Madeline Zavodny

University of North Florida ( email )

4567 St. Johns Bluff Road, South
Jacksonville, FL 32224-2645
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Agnes Scott College ( email )

United States

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