Essays in the Economics of Immigration

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Chapter 1 sets the stage for Chapters 2 and 3, which involves the empirical analyses of the effects of two prominent immigration policies: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). This chapter begins with a review of the history of modern US immigration policy and relevant empirical evidence regarding it. It then focuses on three special topics: immigration and labor markets, immigration and crime, and the effects of enforcement policy. These topics are chosen for their contextual relevance for DACA and IRCA, as well as for marriage.

Chapter 2 examines the impact of Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on the marriage outcomes of its recipients. DACA, an immigration policy introduced by President Barack Obama in 2012, provides temporary benefits to unauthorized immigrants who arrived in the US as children. By analyzing data from the American Community Survey (ACS), the study examines the effects of DACA eligibility on the probability of being married and the types of individuals DACA recipients marry. The findings suggest that DACA eligibility increased the likelihood of marriage by approximately 2 percentage points, with deportation relief being a key driver for women and work authorization playing a more prominent role for men. The analysis also reveals that DACA recipients are more inclined to marry US natives, emphasizing the desire for assimilation, and tend to choose spouses who are fluent in English, indicating the influence of DACA on language-related assimilation.

Chapter 3 investigates the impact of the legalization provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) on marriage rates. The IRCA offered a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants. Using data on unauthorized immigrants that were legalized under the IRCA from the Legalized Population Survey (LPS) and a comparison group of US natives from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), the study implements an individual fixed effects strategy to estimate the changes in marriage rates as a result of the IRCA legalization. The findings reveal a statistically and economically significant increase in marriage rates for both men and women following IRCA legalization. Men experienced a 6.51 percentage point increase, while women saw an 8.29 percentage point increase. Unlike the effects observed in Chapter 2 for DACA, the permanent nature of the IRCA contributed to a stronger impact on marriage rates. The study explores potential mechanisms but finds inconclusive evidence regarding labor market outcomes and education as drivers of the marriage effect resulting from immigration liberalization.