Send Them Back? The Real Estate Consequences of Repatriations
71 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2023
Date Written: December 5, 2023
Housing is a crucial channel through which migration affects the local economy and has been increasingly mentioned by politicians defending immigration limits or even the expulsion of immigrants. Yet, most of what we know about the effects of migration on housing focuses on the inflow of migrants. This paper empirically quantifies the impact of an outflow of immigrants on local housing by studying one of the largest ethnically motivated migration shocks in U.S. history: the United States Mexican repatriation of the 1930s. Using a novel automated matching technique to link houses across the 1930 and 1940 Censuses, we show that repatriating Mexicans during the Great Depression had negative consequences for U.S. housing. Employing an instrumental variable approach, we show that Mexican-occupied houses experienced a disproportionately large devaluation of their values and rents in cities more exposed to repatriation. We also find that U.S.-born homeowners who resided close to Mexicans also experienced a decrease in their home values. Critically, the repatriation depressed aggregate wealth and growth in U.S. cities: it decreased building permit growth rates, the median house value growth, and the median rent growth at the city level. Our results suggest that repatriations have a long-lasting negative impact on housing wealth.
Keywords: Real Estate, Housing, Immigration, Great Depression
JEL Classification: R31, G01, N12, J15, J61
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation