Border Walls

106 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2018 Last revised: 15 Jan 2022

See all articles by Treb Allen

Treb Allen

Dartmouth College

Cauê de Castro Dobbin

Stanford University

Melanie Morten

Stanford University

Date Written: November 2018


What are the economic impacts of a border wall between the United States and Mexico? We use detailed data on bilateral ows of primarily unauthorized Mexican workers to the United States to estimate how a substantial expansion of the border wall between the United States and Mexico from 2007 to 2010 affected migration. We use these effects to estimate a general equilibrium spatial model featuring multiple labor types and quantify the economic impact of the wall expansion. At a construction cost of approximately $7 per person in the United States, we estimate that the border wall expansion harmed Mexican workers and high-skill U.S. workers, but benefited U.S. low-skill workers, who on average achieved welfare gains equivalent to an increase in per capita income of $0.28 per year.

Suggested Citation

Allen, Treb and de Castro Dobbin, Cauê and Morten, Melanie, Border Walls (November 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25267, Available at SSRN:

Treb Allen (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Cauê De Castro Dobbin

Stanford University

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Melanie Morten

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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