The Conquest of Space


On the effects of DACA

Last week we linked to a paper that outlines the effects of DACA status on educational attainment and productivity:

“High school graduation rates increased by 15 percent while teenage births declined by 45 percent.… College attendance increased by 25 percent among women, suggesting that DACA raised aspirations for education above and beyond qualifying for legal status.”

Given reader interest in that paper, we’ve compiled an overview, inspired by current events, of DACA-related studies across a range of domains.

  • On the economic effects of legal status for DREAMers, including the modeled impact of the DREAM Act: “We estimate DACA increased GDP by almost 0.02% (about $3.5 billion), or $7,454 per legalized worker. Passing the DREAM Act would increase GDP by around 0.08% (or $15.2 billion), which amounts to an average of $15,371 for each legalized worker.” Link.
  • The Cato Institute estimates the fiscal impact of the elimination of DACA, inclusive of projected productivity declines and enforcement costs: “The United States economy would be poorer by more than a quarter of a trillion dollars.” Link.
  • A study finds DACA moved 50 to 75 thousand unauthorized immigrants into the labor force while increasing incomes for immigrants at the bottom of the income distribution. Using these estimates, the author contends that the (now defunct) DAPA, which targeted unauthorized parents of US citizens and LPRs for legalization, would move over 250 thousand unauthorized individuals into employment. Link. Another finds a 38% reduction in the likelihood of poverty for DACA-eligible immigrants. Link.
  • As a complement to the above linked paper on education investment, more fine-grained results on education outcomes for DACA recipients: “the effect of DACA on educational investments depends on how easily colleges accommodate working students.” Link.
  • On the mental health outcomes of children of DACA recipients. Link. On the health outcomes for DACA recipients versus their unqualified DREAMer counterparts. Link. On Medicaid use in mixed-status families, and the effects of deportation risk thereon. Link.
  • Again from Cato, a report on the IRCA (alias “Reagan amnesty”) reviews several studies of the economic effects of that 1986 law, which paired legalization for close to three million unauthorized immigrants with increased border security and employer verification. Alongside specific takeaways regarding wages and tax revenues for/from the population that gained legal status (increases in both), a larger claim emerges: legalization programs are most sensible “within the context of comprehensive immigration reform.” Link. For more on the Reagan Amnesty and its legacy, see this report from the DHS and this post from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • Vox’s Dara Lind, one of the few reliably accurate mainstream reporters on immigration law and policy, gives an overview of the DREAMer generation: “It’s the combination of settledness and the difficulty of getting legal that make DREAMers generationally unique in the history of US immigration policy.” Link. An idea discussed in that post—that increased border enforcement paradoxically kept migrants in the U.S.—is given depth by Princeton sociologist Douglas Massey here and here. For more on the relationship between immigration law, increased enforcement, and the growth of the unauthorized population, see this paper, this book, and this article.


New enthusiasm for an old tax idea

The crisis of New York’s subways has led Governor Andrew Cuomo to advocate for “value capture” schemes, including levying increased property taxes alongside future public infrastructure development. According to the New York Times, “There is a growing consensus that property owners should shoulder more of the cost of a subway system that has nourished their bottom lines.”

The discussion around value capture has drawn renewed interest to land value taxation (LVT): a theory popularized by Henry George in the late-19th century and long admired by economists and city planners but rarely put into practice. Here’s Tyler Cowen in Bloomberg making the connection between New York’s land value capture proposal and Georgism:

“The economic theory of taxation… recommends levying tax burdens on relatively inelastic resources, such as land. Because land can’t run away to another country, taxing it may less distort economic activity than taxes on labor or capital.”

Link to the article.

  • Two Economist articles lay out the non-distortionary nature of a land value tax and some potential political hurdles to its wide implementation. Link, link.
  • A 2013 post on land values and the benefits of Ricardian taxes. Link. More from this author, at Slate, on the ability of LVTs to raise money. Link.
  • Georgist economist Mason Gaffney with an overview of economic thought on the taxation of land rents. Link. And on the capacity of land taxes to finance cities. Link.
  • On the (inconclusive) effects of land value taxation for urban development in Estonia, the only country in the EU with a LVT. Link. Further background on the Estonia case: link. And on the use of a two-rate system in Pittsburgh, and on other cities in Pennsylvania (increased building activity and density). Link, link.
  • In a 2015 paper on the role of land in the increasing wealth income ratio, Joseph Stiglitz proposes that a land tax in the Georgist model can help align productive capital and wealth. Link.
  • In the UK, where LVTs have been a prominent subject of discussion relative to the US, the Institute for Fiscal Studies sees them as a necessary replacement to the inefficiencies of market-evaluated business property taxes. Link.
  • In a post on Forbes, Adam Ozimek offers some fundamental conceptual disagreements on LVT.Link. Noah Smith responds with a detailed defense. Link.
  • Beyond transit: a proposal to use LVT to fund Basic Income. Link. Along the same lines, Matt Bruenig includes LVT in his plans for “nickel and diming” a path to a functioning social wealth fund. Link.
  • And, for fun, a brief history of Georgists in New York City. Link.


“Does surveillance impact behavior?”

“…The challenge for documenting, exploring, and understanding the impact of surveillance is really two-fold. The first is one of research methodology and design: designing research to document the impact of surveillance, and a second concerns common assumptions and perceptions as to what surveillance chilling effects might look like—with even experts like Posner or Sklansky assuming widespread speech suppression and conformity due to surveillance.”

In the first post of a series, JON PENNEY outlines assumptions in the study of surveillance. Full post on the Princeton CITP blog here.

  • Linked within the post is a Slate piece by Penney with some of his findings: “In every scenario examined, I found a statistically significant age effect: The younger the participant, the greater the chilling effect. This association was strongest in the scenario involving government surveillance. This is noteworthy given the common perception that young people care little about privacy or surveillance.” Link.


  • Three year results from GiveDirectly’s cash transfer pilot: “The treatment effects on all the main outcomes (assets, earnings, expenditure, food security, and psychological wellbeing) were sustained after 3 years. Gains on an education index that were not significant at 9 months also becomes significant at 3 years, driven by increased spending on school fees, uniforms, books and supplies.” Link. ht Sidhya
  • Classifying fairness: “The most prevalent notions of fairness in machine learning are statistical definitions: they fix a small collection of pre-defined groups, and then ask for parity of some statistic of the classifier across these groups… We propose instead to demand statistical notions of fairness across exponentially (or infinitely) many subgroups, defined by a structured class of functions over the protected attributes.” Link.
  • New NBER paper by Daron Acemoglu and Pascual Restrepo: how to model the future of work. Link.
  • On racialized perceptions of public assistance programs. Link. And the media effect thereon.Link, link. ht Sidhya
  • Distrust and Political Turnover. “Severe economic downturns are more likely to cause political turnover in countries that have lower levels of generalized trust.” Link.
  • “We show that personal experiences with the Affordable Care Act informed voting behavior and that these effects could have altered the election outcome in pivotal states, suggesting that Republican efforts to undermine the law’s implementation paid tangible political dividends.” Link.
  • “The 2016 Health Care Cost and Utilization Report shows that spending per privately insured person grew by 4.6 percent, faster than in previous years. Price increases were the primary driver.” Link. ht Ankit
  • “How Thailand built a universal healthcare system.” Link. ht Ankit
  • A new study on “the ‘golden spike’, marking the onset of the Anthropocene Epoch.” Link.
  • From the Atlantic in 1930: “‘Technological unemployment’ this condition is called, to make it sound a little less disastrous, and our public men assure us that it will surely disappear, for these machines will increase our riches, and we shall buy more luxuries, and the luxury trades will ‘take up the slack.'” Link. ht Bobby
  • A report from the Urban Institute: “Who uses income-driven student loan repayment?” Link. ht Will
  • “Industrious” revolution? On construction workers in 18th-century London. Link.

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations:

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