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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Three essays on circular Mexican migration
by Thom, Kevin, Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2009, 175; 3357177
Abstract (Summary)

The three essays in this dissertation investigate the determinants of repeated circular migration among undocumented immigrants, the effect of U.S. border and immigration policies on this behavior, and the consequences of circular migration for human capital accumulation in Mexico. The first essay contributes to the literature on temporary migration by developing and solving a model of repeated circular migration that accounts for saving behavior. Using Mexican Migrant Project (MMP) data on undocumented migrants and non-migrants, I estimate the parameters of the model through the Method of Simulated Moments. The model and parameter estimates allow for the analysis of migration policy. The intensity of U.S. border enforcement is found to have a significant positive effect on the cost of migration. Counterfactual policy experiments suggest that more aggressive border enforcement strategies cause individuals to take fewer but longer migratory trips. However, I do not find that more intense border enforcement regimes increase the total population of undocumented migrants.

The second essay uses the model and parameter estimates of the first essay to analyze the how migrants in the MMP data would behave if offered the opportunity to enroll in a guestworker program. Through counterfactual policy experiments, I investigate how guestworker programs with different visa fees and visa lengths affect the total population of migrants and the total population of undocumented migrants in the United States. I find that programs featuring larger fees and longer visa lengths are more successful in reducing the population of undocumented migrants. Restricting the program to only undocumented migrants also increases the effectiveness of these programs in reducing the undocumented population.

The third essay, coauthored with Steffen Reinhold, tests for the extent to which temporary Mexican migrants upgrade their skills while working in the United States. Controlling for the endogeneity of the migration decision and the selectivity of the sample, we estimate the relationship between one's accumulated migration experience in the U.S. and labor market performance in Mexico. We find that migration experience significantly increases labor market income in Mexico, and that experience as an undocumented migrant appears to be more valuable in the Mexican labor market than experience as a documented migrant. However, these conclusions may not be robust to alternate specifications of the model.

Keywords: Labor Migration, Mexico-U.S. Migration, Illegal Immigration

JEL Classification: C11, C62, D83, D84, E30

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Moffitt, Robert
School: The Johns Hopkins University
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Economics, Labor economics, Hispanic American studies
Keywords: Circular migration, Illegal immigration, Labor migration, Mexican, Mexico-U.S. migration, United States
Publication Number: 3357177
ISBN: 978-1-109-13935-8
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