“Do Minimum Wages Help or Hurt Low-Skilled Immigrants?” (with Joseph J. Sabia). Industrial Relations 58(2): 275-314.
Raising the minimum wage has been advanced as complementary policy to comprehensive immigration reform to improve low‐skilled immigrants’ economic well‐being. While adverse labor demand effects could undermine this goal, existing studies do not detect evidence of negative employment effects. We re‐investigate this question using data from the 1994 to 2016 Current Population Survey and conclude that minimum wage increases reduced employment of less‐educated Hispanic immigrants, with estimated elasticities of around –0.1. However, we also find that the wage and employment effects of minimum wages on low‐skilled immigrants diminished over the last decade. This finding is consistent with more restrictive state immigration policies and the Great Recession inducing outmigration of low‐skilled immigrants, as well as immigrants moving into the informal sector. Finally, our results show that raising the minimum wage is an ineffective policy tool for reducing poverty among immigrants.
“E-Verify Mandates and Immigrant Health Insurance”
Non-citizen immigrants are less likely than natives to have health insurance, especially if they are unauthorized. Due to eligibility restrictions for public programs, these individuals rely on the labor market for access to private insurance. Recently, the Trump administration has called for a nationwide E-Verify mandate as part of a broader effort to reshape US immigration policy. By cutting off unauthorized immigrants’ access to the formal labor market, this policy has the potential to exacerbate their low rate of insurance coverage. Using both the American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, this paper finds that state-level E-Verify mandates reduce the probability that a likely-unauthorized immigrant has health insurance by approximately 5 percentage points. This decline is driven by worsened labor market prospects and, consequently, a loss of private health insurance. There is also evidence that E-Verify mandates chill Medicaid take-up among certain those likely to qualify for public insurance, including native children with likely-unauthorized mothers.
Work in Progress
“Prenatal Care and Immigrant Birth Outcomes”