Estimating the Economic Impacts of DACA

38 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2019 Last revised: 5 Sep 2019

See all articles by Ike Brannon

Ike Brannon

The Jack Kemp Foundation

M. Kevin McGee

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh

Date Written: July 5, 2019


This paper estimates the economic impacts of DACA, on the educational attainment, earnings and federal tax payments of the DACA population, on state and local tax revenues, on the broader American workforce, and on the U.S. economy as a whole. We construct two models of the DACA population and its economic behaviors, the first assuming DACA is made permanent, and the second assuming DACA is terminated at the end of 2019.

We find that eliminating DACA is lose-lose-lose. The DACA population would lose about $120 billion in income, the federal government would lose roughly $72 billion in tax revenue, and states and local governments would lose about $15 billion in tax revenue over the 2020-29 decade.

Those losses would come without any offsetting gains. Eliminating DACA would be, in effect, throwing away some of our nation’s human capital resources, dramatically reducing the returns to education for the DACA population, and channeling them into jobs where legal status is ignored, and that do not allow them to take full advantage of their human capital.

This failure to employ all of our human capital would hurt low-to-moderate income workers. Eliminating DACA would merely increase the competition for the kinds of jobs that tend to have an excess supply of workers, while reducing the supply of employable skilled workers in the areas where we have the most acute labor shortages. Overall, we find that eliminating DACA would benefit virtually no one while hurting pretty much everyone.

Keywords: DACA, immigration, undocumented immigrants, returns to education

JEL Classification: J15, J68, O15

Suggested Citation

Brannon, Ike and McGee, M. Kevin, Estimating the Economic Impacts of DACA (July 5, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Ike Brannon (Contact Author)

The Jack Kemp Foundation ( email )

M. Kevin McGee

University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh ( email )

800 Algoma Blvd
Oshkosh, WI WI 54901
United States

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