Professor of Economics and Education, Teachers College
Professor of International and Public Affairs (affiliate)
Executive Director, Program in International Migration, Columbia University Law School
Director, New York Latino Research Clearinghouse
Past Research: Professor Rivera-Batiz has conducted extensive research on the socioeconomic effects of immigration in U.S. labor markets and on U.S. immigration policy. One of his best-known papers, published in the Journal of Population Economics in 1994, showed that immigrants and natives generally tend to be complements in the labor market, both in the U.S. and in Europe; this was one of the first papers to examine the impact of immigration in an economy-wide, multi-sector framework, which disaggregated the effects of immigration on various economic and demographic groups. Contrary to popular perception, his various papers on the economic effects of immigrants in the U.S. labor market (using Census PUMS data for 1980, 1990, and 2000) generally find numerically small effects. Rivera-Batiz has also studied extensively the social and economic progress of immigrants in the U.S. His research on undocumented immigrants has examined the wages of those immigrants relative to legal immigrants. He finds that, before legalization, undocumented workers earn substantially lower wages when compared to legal immigrants with the same characteristics (age, education, etc.). This wage differential, however, essentially disappears once the undocumented workers are legalized. Furthermore, legalization policy appears to be successful in increasing the education of legalized workers.
Present Research: Rivera-Batiz has continued his research on various migration issues, including analysis of public policies towards immigrants. His recent research has focused on migration from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to the U.S., examining the forces behind this mass migration, the impact on the U.S. labor market, and the socioeconomic progress of the immigrants themselves. He has, for example, sought to explain why the earnings of LAC migrants have been sharply declining relative to the earnings of other immigrants as well as natives. His most recent research on this issue—to be published in 2007 by the journal World Economy, using data from various Census PUMS as well as the 2005 American Community Survey—shows that the most significant factor explaining the lower relative wages of LAC migrants in the U.S. is the comparatively low (and declining) educational attainment of these migrants relative to other immigrant groups and natives. Rivera-Batiz has also written on Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican and other Latino groups in New York City and in the U.S., and his socioeconomic profiles of Dominican and Mexican New Yorkers have been widely disseminated in the press. Rivera-Batiz has received funding from the State Assembly of New York to carry out some of his research and dissemination activities on the Latino population of New York.
Future Research: Rivera-Batiz intends to continue his research on undocumented immigrants and their impact on the U.S. economy, including an analysis of current U.S. immigration policy options regarding this issue. He plans to apply for funding from the Pew Hispanic Research Center to carry out research on the changes in the characteristics of undocumented Mexican immigrants in the 1990s and 2000s, using data collected by the Pew Hispanic Research Center itself, combined with data from the Legalized Population Survey dataset. In addition, he intends to carry out research on the educational situation of the children of undocumented immigrants. With more than 10 million illegal immigrants estimated to be located in the U.S., the children of these immigrants are a rising population within the U.S. educational system. Yet, there has not been a detailed analysis of this group, their performance in school, etc. He plans to apply for funding from the Russell Sage Foundation (where he was a visiting scholar in 2003-2004) and other sources to carry out a survey of this specific population, with a focus on New York City. As part of this project, he intends to study the family context of the children, thereby obtaining a detailed picture of the undocumented immigrant population of New York.
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