A Property Rights Approach to Temporary Work Visas

30 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2017 Last revised: 19 Sep 2017

See all articles by Alessandra Casella

Alessandra Casella

Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Adam B. Cox

New York University School of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 23, 2017

Abstract

Temporary labor visa rules in the United States are criticized on three grounds: for failing to allocate visas efficiently, for failing to adequately protect domestic workers, and for exposing migrant workers to exploitation. We argue that it is possible to address all three problems by re-configuring the property rights associated with the visas and carefully designing the mechanism for allocating those rights. Our core insight is to unbundle the two rights that today are typically combined: the firm’s right to employ a foreign worker, and the worker’s right to reside and work in the country during that time. A three-pronged approach—auctioning abstract pre-contract visas to firms, allowing their trade on a secondary market, and transferring the visa’s ownership to the worker upon signature of the employment contract—has the potential to improve the efficiency of visa allocation, to better shield domestic workers, and to protect foreign workers from exploitation.

Keywords: Guest Workers, Labor Migration, Visas, Property Rights, Coase, Auction

Suggested Citation

Casella, Alessandra and Cox, Adam B., A Property Rights Approach to Temporary Work Visas (August 23, 2017). Journal of Legal Studies, Forthcoming; NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 17-31. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3024818

Alessandra Casella

Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-2459 (Phone)
212-854-8059 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.columbia.edu/~ac186/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Adam B. Cox (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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