The Economics of Immigration Reform

35 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2018 Last revised: 15 Nov 2018

See all articles by Howard F. Chang

Howard F. Chang

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Date Written: 2018


In this article, I draw upon economic theory and recent empirical work on the economic and fiscal effects of immigration to evaluate some recent proposals for immigration reform in terms of their effects on the economic welfare of natives in the United States. In particular, I consider the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, a bill that would cut immigration to half of its current level. President Donald Trump has endorsed the RAISE Act and has insisted that many of its provisions be part of any legislation legalizing the status of unauthorized immigrants granted relief under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. I compare this restrictionist proposal to the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in 2013, which would have liberalized admissions to the United States. I conclude that economic analysis militates in favor of liberalizing our immigration restrictions, as proposed in 2013, instead of imposing the drastic new restrictions proposed in the RAISE Act.

Keywords: Law & economics, impacts of immigration, benefit/cost analysis, public goods, government spending, taxes, transfer payments, entitlements, family-sponsored & employer-sponsored visas, quotas, wage effects, job skills, path to citizenship

JEL Classification: F22, J21, J61, K37

Suggested Citation

Chang, Howard F., The Economics of Immigration Reform (2018). UC Davis Law Review, Vol. 52, p. 111, 2018, U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 18-17, Available at SSRN:

Howard F. Chang (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
215-898-9497 (Phone)
215-573-2025 (Fax)

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