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Three Essays on Policies Affecting Migrants

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Item Summary

Title: Three Essays on Policies Affecting Migrants
Authors: Liou, Wayne
Issue Date: Dec 2015
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2015]
Abstract: Throughout history, immigrants have often been underrepresented in public policy creation. Unauthorized immigrants are uninvolved in political discourse due to their inability to affect political outcomes through voting, while immigrants in general might have problems effectively communicating their needs in the destination country's primary language. Ethnic and racial prejudices can also be a barrier. Because of this, how policies affect the migrant population might not be carefully considered. This dissertation works to address this by examining three different policies that have serious consequences on immigrants.
The first essay uses a policy that further restricts the hiring of unauthorized immigrant to examine the effect on where migrants, both authorized and unauthorized, choose to live after job opportunities are reduced. The Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA), passed in 2007 and enacted in 2008, prohibits Arizona employers from hiring unauthorized immigrants. Even though the focal point of the law was unauthorized workers, the law could have affected other individuals. Legal workers could have moved to avoid complications from the law or to accommodate illegal immigrants in the household. In addition, the state-level law could have affected neighboring states. I find that though the target of the laws are unauthorized immigrants, likely authorized immigrants are affected as well, and that neighboring states are impacted by the migrants leaving Arizona.
The second essay takes advantage of a policy that freed migrant workers from coercive contracts to see how the removal of constraints affects wages and work effort. In 1898 the United States annexed Hawai`i and incorporated it as a U.S. territory in 1900. The Organic Act establishing Hawai`i's territorial government terminated the coercive labor contracts of plantation workers in Hawai`i. I use plantation records of payments to workers to determine whether there were substantial changes in wages and days-worked-per-month in the months leading to and after the 14 June 1900 transition to territorial rule. The analysis reveals increases in wages paid to all types of plantation labor, but none as significant as the increase in wages of formerly contract workers. There was also a decrease in days-worked-per-month for contract workers. I then consider whether changes in wages were due to a break-down in monopsony power after all coercive contracts ended simultaneously or integration of the Hawai`i labor market with the U.S. West Coast labor market.
The last essay is an exploration into the problems with effective communication that migrants often encounter. It looks at the effect of language access (essentially, translation services) policies on Medicaid take-up rates among Limited English Proficiency (LEP) migrants. I take advantage of state heterogeneity in language access laws to examine whether these efforts do indeed increase Medicaid take-up rates. I find that language access improves Medicaid take-up rates among likely LEP migrants without crowding out private health insurance. There is some variation in efficacy across states, with some evidence that California and New York are the main drivers of the increased take-up rates. Lastly, I find that even though many of these translation services primarily target Spanish-speakers, the laws might not be as helpful to Spanish-speaking migrants.
This dissertation shows that it is necessary to create comprehensive policies that involve all members of society throughout the decision-making process to ensure no one becomes or remains disenfranchised.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2015.
Includes bibliographical references.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/51633
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - Economics


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