How did the Miami labor market absorb the Mariel immigrants?
Ethan Lewis ()
No 04-3, Working Papers from Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Card's (1990) well-known analysis of the Mariel boatlift concluded that this mass influx of mostly less-skilled Cubans to Miami had little impact on the labor market outcomes of the city's less-skilled workers. This paper evaluates two explanations for this. First, consistent with an open-economy framework, this paper asks whether after the boatlift, Miami increased its production of unskilled-intensive manufactured goods, allowing it to \\"export\\" the impact of the boatlift. Second, this paper asks whether Miami adapted to the boatlift by implementing new skill-complementary technologies more slowly than would have otherwise been the case. Using a confidential micro data version of the Annual Surveys of Manufactures, I show that following the boatlift, Miami's relative output of different manufacturing industries trended similarly to other cities with similar pre-boatlift trends in manufacturing mix. The response of industry mix to the boatlift therefore appears to be small. Supporting the second type of adjustment, utilization of Cuban labor by Miami's industries rose proportionately to the supply increase generated by the boatlift. In addition, post-boatlift computer use at work was lower in Miami than in other cities with similar levels of computer-based employment before the event, even among non-Hispanic workers in the same detailed cells defined by industry, occupation, and education. This suggests the boatlift induced Miami's industries to employ more unskilled-intensive production technologies. The results suggest an explanation for why native wages are consistently found to be insensitive to local immigration shocks: markets adapt production technology to local factor supplies.
Keywords: Immigrants (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ure
Date: 2004, Revised 2004
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