The labor market effects of Mexican repatriations: Longitudinal evidence from the 1930s

Jongkwan Lee | Giovanni Peri | Vasil Yasenov
Journal of Public Economics

We examine the consequences of a significant return-migration episode, during which at least 400,000 Mexicans returned to Mexico between 1929 and 1934, on U.S. workers’ labor market outcomes. To identify a causal effect, we instrument the county-level drop in Mexican population with the size of the Mexican communities in 1910 and its interaction with proxies of repatriation costs. Using individual-level linked Census data from 1930–1940, we find that Mexican repatriations resulted in reduced employment and occupational downgrading for U.S. natives. These patterns were stronger for low-skilled workers and for workers in urban locations.