The Effects of Enforcement on Illegal Markets: Evidence from Migrant Smuggling Along the Southwestern Border

67 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2004

See all articles by Christina Gathmann

Christina Gathmann

Alfred-Weber Institut; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: January 2004

Abstract

This paper analyzes how enforcement along the U.S.-Mexican border has affected the market for migrant smugglers. Using a unique dataset that links border crossing histories from illegal Mexican migrants to aggregate enforcement and punishment statistics, we find that the effect of enforcement on smuggling prices is small. Though enforcement has more than tripled over the past fifteen years, smuggling prices have increased by at most 30 percent. Unlike estimates from illegal drugs, the demand for border smugglers is however price elastic. We also show that illegal migrants have switched from heavily patrolled areas to more remote and dangerous crossing routes. These avoidance costs are in fact three times the direct costs of enforcement on smuggling prices.

Keywords: enforcement, illegal migration, Mexico

JEL Classification: J61, K42

Suggested Citation

Gathmann, Christina, The Effects of Enforcement on Illegal Markets: Evidence from Migrant Smuggling Along the Southwestern Border (January 2004). IZA Discussion Paper No. 1004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=500911

Christina Gathmann (Contact Author)

Alfred-Weber Institut ( email )

Bergheimer Str. 20
Heidelberg, 69115
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/index_html?lang=en&mainframe=http%3A//www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos%

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~cgathman

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