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Project Proposal

Macroeconomic Effects of Immigration Reform

Project Description

The purpose of this project is to assess the macroeconomic impact of some immigration reforms that have been recently proposed in the U.S. The project will consider reforms included in (former) President Trump’s “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act of 2018” as well as reforms proposed by President-elect Joe Biden as part of his “Plan for Securing Our Values as a Nation of Immigrants.”

The project’s end goal is to assess these reforms using a rigorous model (rigorous meaning that it is able to replicate some key micro and macroeconomic facts) of the U.S. economy. There are three key steps in the project. First, collecting and analyzing data to document the key facts that the model will replicate. Second, constructing a model of the U.S. economy that is able to replicate the documented facts. Third, using the model to answer the questions of interest by conducting counterfactual experiments (i.e. what would the model predict if reform x is enacted).

Anticipated Project Activities

My expectation is that the student will work on collecting and analyzing data to document the key facts that the model will replicate. This will require the student to read several research papers about immigration reforms in the U.S. (reforms enacted in the past and those that are currently being proposed) and the impact of immigration in the U.S. labor market. The main purpose of this exercise is to ensure that the student has a strong understanding of the issue at hand. The student will also collect (and clean) micro- and macroeconomic data related to the immigration population in the U.S. Some of the data sources that the student will use include the Current Population Survey, the American Community Survey, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation. Finally, the student will use the collected data to identify differences in wealth, income, earnings, occupation, and education level between immigrants and non-immigrants in the U.S.

Preferred Student Qualifications and Skills

The necessary qualifications include an interest in immigration policy, economic modeling, mathematical maturity, ability to work independently, critical thinking, and basic knowledge of computer programming (in any language but preferably in Python).

Other qualifications that would be extremely useful but are not necessary include a background on Statistics and/or Econometrics (from previous classes taken at Vassar or elsewhere).

Anticipated Follow-up Teaching/Professional Activity for Student

The student will present the findings at the Ford symposium in the 2021 fall semester. Depending on the progress from the summer, the student might be invited to continue working on the project as a research assistant. It is also possible for the student to buildup on this experience to develop their own related research project for a course or senior thesis. The opportunity to collect, clean, and analyze data provides valuable experience for internships or full-time jobs. Furthermore, this project will expose the students to some state-of-the-art economic modeling techniques which will be useful for those considering graduate school in any field.

Project Location

Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY—Hybrid. I would prefer to conduct the project in-person if circumstances allow me to do so, but I can make it work remotely as well.

Project Duration

Eight weeks

Project Start Date

June 7, 2021

Project End Date

July 31, 2021