Licensed to Drive, but not to Work: The Impact of AB60 on Unauthorized Employment in California
In January 2015, an estimated 2.4 million unauthorized immigrants in California gained access to driver’s licenses when Assembly Bill 60 (AB60) was implemented. The paper uses microdata from the American Community Survey from 2010 through 2017 to study this reform’s employment effects for unauthorized immigrants. It shows that take-up of the reform was large and reduced the number of unauthorized immigrants without a car by 21 percent. The reform improved work intensity by allowing unauthorized immigrants to work up 65 hours more per year. However, AB60 had no effects on the job search process. It did not affect employment, earnings, or the type of occupation unauthorized immigrants have. The findings imply that driver’s licenses alone are insufficient to improve the economic situation of unauthorized immigrants. The lack of work authorization prevents them from enjoying the full benefits of private transportation.