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Monday, January 25, 2016

Borjas 'On Mariel'

George Borjas is blogging again:

Hello World (again): About 10 years ago, I had a blog that ran for about a year or so. It quickly began to consume too much of my time, and I realized that I could not be a heavy blogger and a full-time researcher at the same time. So I stopped blogging after a while.
Immigration is back big time. I’ve been dragged into a public debate over some work I did last summer. And I have a book coming out in the fall that hopes to clarify many of the issues in the immigration debate.
So I’m going to try blogging one more time. I’ve learned my lesson; I don’t expect to be blogging daily. But I suspect that the book will provoke some reactions–and the election is coming up as well. So come summer/fall I may be hanging around here more than just a bit.

Today, he revisits the Mariel boat lift:

On Mariel: A couple of readers of early drafts of We Wanted Workers made some comments last spring that planted an idea in my head: perhaps it was time to revisit Mariel and see what we could learn from that supply shock with the hindsight of 25-years worth of additional research. ...
I then spent the entire summer working time-and-a-half on my Mariel paper. The paper went through several rounds. I got a lot of feedback from many friends who read early drafts. And I even did something that I had never done before: I hired someone to replicate the entire exercise from scratch just to make sure it was right!
The paper came out as an NBER working paper in September 2015. At least in my corner of the universe, it created a disturbance in the force reminiscent of the destruction of Alderaan, leading to a debate in the past few weeks (here’s the Peri-Yasenov criticism) and to my writing a follow-up paper showing that the critics are wrong. ... And here is a popular piece I published in National Review that summarizes my take on what is going on.
The critics harp on the fact that my sample of prime-age, non-Hispanic working men is small (which it is, as I explicitly noted in my original paper). But they ignore that I report many statistical tests showing the post-1980 wage drop in Miami to be statistically significant, despite the small samples.
Even worse, the only way to make sure your lying eyes see the “right” wage trend is to enlarge the sample in ways that are, at best, questionable and, most likely, just plain wrong. ...
After everything is said and done, it surely seems as if something happened to the low-skill labor market in Miami after 1980, and that something depressed low-skill wages for several years. This fact has a really interesting implication. Suppose that the Mariel natural experiment is giving us the correct estimate of the wage depression. We may then be severely understating the economic gains from immigration.

    Posted by on Monday, January 25, 2016 at 02:11 PM in Economics, Immigration | Permalink  Comments (23)


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