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Cityscape: Volume 11 Number 3 | Chapter 2



Volume 11 Num 3

Recent Immigration: The Diversity of Economic Outcomes in Metropolitan America1

Mark D. Partridge
Dan S. Rickman
Kamar Ali

As with the articles in this issue, this introduction reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Immigration to the United States is a hotly debated political topic that also generates considerable academic study. Studies routinely examine subnational areas to take advantage of the widely varying local concentrations of immigrants. Yet their conclusions are wide ranging. One reason why the regional influence of immigrants is so hard to assess is the varied economic responses that can occur. For example, in response to an influx of recent immigrants, natives and previous immigrants may out-migrate to produce no net effect on total labor supply and, hence, no net effect on employment or wages. Moreover, differences in industry composition, amenities, and housing stocks can lead to heterogeneous labor market effects of immigration across regions. Using county- and metropolitan area-level data, this study examines the effects of recent immigration on U.S. metropolitan labor market outcomes, such as internal migration, wages, labor force participation, and housing costs. Using instrumental variables estimation, the study detects large net out-migration responses of nonimmigrants to recent immigration. The analysis also finds that recent immigration has heterogeneous effects across different-sized metropolitan areas. Finally, the study detects threshold effects beyond which nonimmigrants become more responsive to immigration.

1 The authors presented an earlier version of this article at the 55th North American Regional Science Association Meetings, New York, New York; the 48th Western Regional Science Association Meetings, Napa Valley, California; and the 2009 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Las Vegas, Nevada.

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