Pia Orrenius, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Abstract: This paper examines the effect of changes in migration determinants on the skill level of undocumented immigrants from Mexico. We focus on the effect of changes in economic conditions, migrant networks, and border enforcement on the educational attainment of Mexican-born men who cross the border illegally. Results from hazard models using data from the Mexican Migration Project indicate that improvements in U.S. and Mexican economic conditions are associated with a decline in the average educational level of undocumented immigrants. Stricter border enforcement is associated with higher average skill levels. Access to a network of previous immigrants appears to lower the cost of migrating but has no differential effect by skill level.