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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

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Legalization and Immigrants in U.S. Agriculture

Anita Alves Pena
  • 1Colorado State University - Fort Collins,
Published Online: 2010-02-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.2250


This article considers how legal status affects agricultural labor market outcomes and food prices. Using both propensity score matching and treatment effects regression analysis, undocumented immigrants are found to make 5 to 6% less on average and to have significantly lower probabilities of aid program participation than their documented immigrant counterparts. Magnitudes of differences depend on the permanence of legal status, with naturalized citizens and green card holders benefiting more from their legal status than those with other forms of work authorization. Results suggest that a new program granting amnesty to undocumented immigrant farmworkers, reminiscent of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker program under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, would have minimal effects on farmworker outcomes especially in the short term, and that if employers pass labor cost increases to consumers via food prices, effects on consumers would be similarly minimal.

Keywords: agricultural labor; legal status; amnesty; implicit tax rates

Published Online: 2010-02-03

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy. Volume 10, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.2250, February 2010

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