Legal Status and Working Conditions of Mexican and Central American Immigrants in the United States: A Multilevel Analysis

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:24
Location: Hörsaal 07 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Douglas MASSEY, Princeton University, USA
Jorge DURAND, University of Guadalajara, Mexico
Karen PREN, Princeton University, USA
In this paper, we analyze how individual legal status and the concentration of undocumented workers in a labor market affect the wages and working conditions experienced by Mexicans and Central American immigrants in the United States. The analysis relies on data from the Mexican Migration Project covering respondents’ last trip to the United States, combined with recent annual estimates of undocumented migrants by state and metropolitan area.  It estimates regression models to examine how an individual’s undocumented status and the relative share of undocumented in the metropolitan area affects real wages, hours worked, tax withholding, how job was obtained, the likelihood of cash payment, and the likelihood of enclave employment, holding constant the effects of personal characteristics such as age, gender, marital status, education, English ability, occupation, cumulative U.S. experience, and number of prior U.S. trips. Results indicate that a precarious legal status undermines the wages and working conditions of Latino immigrants in the United States, and that the effect is heightened in labor markets where undocumented migrants are more numerous.