How Labor Migrants Fare

Part of the series Population Economics pp 333-350

IRCA’s impact on the occupational concentration and mobility of newly-legalized Mexican men

  • Sherrie A. KossoudjiAffiliated withThe Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, Economics Department/School of Social Work, The University of Michigan
  • , Deborah A. Cobb-ClarkAffiliated withEconomics Program and National Centre for Development Studies, Australian National University

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


We examine the occupational concentration and mobility of a group of unauthorized Mexican men who received amnesty under IRCA to shed light on the role of legal status in the assimilation process. Initially these men are concentrated in a small number of traditional migrant jobs. Although their occupational mobility rate is high, it partly represents churning through these same occupations. When we consider the direction 2014 either upward or downward 2014 of occupational change, we find that English language ability and the characteristics of the occupation, itself, are strongly correlated with mobility before legalization. After legalization, few characteristics surpass in importance the common experience of having received amnesty.

JEL classification