Gender, U.S. Immigration Policy, and the Wages of Latino Immigrants

Katharine M. Donato, Rice University
Chizuko Wakabayashi, Rice University
Amada Armenta, Rice University

Prior studies suggest that the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in 1986 signaled a deterioration in the labor market conditions of U.S. Latino migrants--especially Mexicans. In this paper, we examine whether and how labor market conditions worsened for migrant women after 1986, and the extent to which these shifts were comparable to those experienced by men. Using a new source of data that offers comparability across four national origins, we estimate multivariate models that capture the effects of a variety of variables on migrants hourly wages and their receipt of cash wages on their last U.S. trip. Interaction models reveal significant sex differences in pre- and post-1986 effects. IRCA comparably affected the wages of men and women, but it raised women's odds of receiving cash wages. These findings suggest a negative impact of IRCA never before documented for men and women.

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Presented in Session 115: The Economic Adaptation of Immigrants