We examine the consequences of a significant return-migration episode, during which at least 400,000 Mexicans returned to Mexico between 1929 and 1934, on U.S. workers’ labor market outcomes. To identify a causal effect, we instrument the county-level drop in Mexican population with the size of the Mexican communities in 1910 and its interaction with proxies of repatriation costs. Using individual-level linked Census data from 1930–1940, we find that Mexican repatriations resulted in reduced employment and occupational downgrading for U.S. natives. These patterns were stronger for low-skilled workers and for workers in urban locations.
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We thank the editor and two anonymous referees for their suggestions and guidance. We also thank Leah Boustan, Breno Braga, Michael Clemens, Stefano Della Vigna, Arindrajit Dube, Katherine Erickson, Francesco Fasani, Daniel Hamermesh, Suresh Naidu, Alan Manning, Chris Meissner, Kris Mitchener, Santiago Perez, Sarah Quincy and seminar participants at the Urban Institute, Santa Clara University, UC Davis, 2017 CEPR/IZA Annual Symposium in Labour Economics, 2018 WEAI International Conference, 2018 SOLE Annual Meeting for helpful comments. An earlier version of this paper was circulated under the title “The Employment Effects of Mexican Repatriations: Evidence from the 1930s.” Emily Culver, Justin Wiltshire and John Blanchette provided excellent research assistance. We have not received any financial support for this project. All errors are our own.
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- Great depression
- Mexican repatriations