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Labor Mobility and Wages of the Rich Country Poor, Part One: Analysis and Implications of the Mariel Boatlift

George Borjas has a 2015 paper on the Mariel boatlift experience arguing that, although the large and rapid influx of migrants did not affect average wages or low-skill wages, a small, demographically arbitrary, group experienced large negative wage impacts. In this blog post I want to address two technical points about this finding and then address more conceptual points about the policy implications of this general type of finding of distributional impacts in Part Two.

What Economists Can Learn from the Mariel Boatlift, Part Two: Answering Questions about Our Research

Last week I blogged about a research discovery. An influential study had found that a 1980 wave of Cuban refugees into Miami, known as the Mariel Boatlift, had caused the wages of workers there to fall dramatically. In a new paper co-released by CGD and the National Bureau of Economic Research, my co-author and I revealed that large shifts in the racial composition of the underlying survey data could explain most or all of the same fall in wages. The author of the previous study, George Borjas, raised two substantive questions about our research, which I answer briefly in this post.

How the US Immigration Ban Hurts Students, Universities, and the US Economy

Several recent articles about President Trump’s executive order on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries have looked at how it affects thousands of international students all across the US. At stake here is not only their ability to benefit from a US education, but also how the US benefits from having students from those countries at American institutions, in terms of revenue, future productivity, and jobs. My own research, using both administrative and survey data, shows that the costs of this ban to the US will include costs to public universities and lost global talent from abroad. The US is the largest "exporter" of higher education services, and the ban could hit universities with a revenue loss of around $200 million a year, with larger impacts on the local economies around campuses.

How Will President Trump’s Executive Orders Affect Development? CGD Experts Consider the Evidence

Kellyanne Conway called him a “man of action” after a whirlwind first week in which President Trump signed 14 Executive Orders and presidential memoranda, covering most of his key campaign issue areas from health to immigration to trade. In a series of blogs, CGD experts have been examining how some of these specific policy intentions could impact development progress. As you would expect from a group of economists, we believe in—and encourage—evidence-based policymaking, and here we look at what the existing evidence and research tell us about how likely these Executive Orders are to achieve the president’s stated goals.

A Microcosm of US Border Policy toward Mexico

Boquillas del Carmen is a tiny village just over the Rio Grande from Big Bend National Park in Texas that experienced a tremendous decline when US authorities closed the border in 2002. For decades, the town’s economy depended on tourists crossing over to enjoy spectacular views of the Chisos Mountains while eating homemade enchiladas at the one or two restaurants in town. Then, some months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the US government shut down all unofficial, unmanned border crossings with Mexico, including the one at Boquillas. Suddenly there were no more tourists.

A New Vision for US-Mexico Cooperation on Labor Mobility

Today we launch a detailed proposal for a new era of collaboration between the United States and Mexico: bilateral regulation of temporary, lawful labor mobility across the border. I join with a diverse, five-star group of experts from both countries—chaired by Ernesto Zedillo, the former president of Mexico and Carlos Gutierrez, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce under George W. Bush (as featured in the New York Times)—to say that it is time for a new vision of the shared future at our shared border. We offer specific ways to get there.

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